Households are saving money by being frugal during lockdown, suggests figures from the Commonwealth Bank. Most households have the same income as before but greatly reduced expenditure, giving them the opportunity to add to savings and pay off debt. Banks are still lending and a significant number of households are also better off because of stimulus payments. Based on the bank’s credit and debit card transactions, overall spending for the week ended April 17 was 18% lower than a year ago. But the fall was not matched in wages and salaries which decreased by only 6.7% between March 14 and April 4, shows ABS figures. Since the start of the pandemic, banks have provided $45 billion in new loans to businesses, including nearly $8.5 billion to 23,000 small businesses, and another $6 billion in extended credit.

Unemployment benefits, renamed from Newstart Allowance to JobSeeker Payment, have been doubled, to $565.70 for a single person with no dependants. The JobKeeper payment of $1500 a fortnight will come into effect in May.