The government is failing to keep pace with the cost of living

Samaritans CEO

The cost of living is inarguably on the rise but the government’s income support payments are failing to keep pace, leaving many Australian families in the lurch.

Recent statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal that almost two-thirds of low-income households in Australia experienced financial stress in 2015/16. Half of the households that are reliant on income support payments reported four or more financial stress indicators such as going without meals, being unable to heat their home or having to sell their possessions to make ends meet.

The latest Household Expenditure Survey, released just last week, cements that the cost of living is indeed on the rise in Australia with household spending increasing by 15% from 2010 to 2016. It also proves that Australians in the lowest 20% income bracket are spending higher proportions of their income on the basics; food, energy and housing than they were six years ago. It seems logical that as the cost of living rises, the income support payments supposedly designed to keep individuals from falling into poverty should increase accordingly. Instead, our government is trying to cut income support payments and put further undue stress on families who are already struggling.

The unemployment payment of just $38 per day is simply not cutting it for families who are faced with rising housing, energy, food and general cost of living expenses. The system meant to protect individuals from poverty is in fact the biggest risk factor to living in poverty for those who are without work and reliant on income support payments. Over 3 million Australians live in poverty and it is not until the government implements adequate income support that is reflective of the fluctuating cost of living that true and meaningful progress can be made.