New report shows Queenslanders struggling to afford the basics

  • A toddler is held in the air by parents at sunset

QCOSS’ 2020 Living Affordability in Queensland report shows that many Queensland households are still struggling to afford the basics.

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh says, “Many Queenslanders were struggling before the COVID-19 crisis came around. Low-income households came into the crisis with no funds for unexpected expenses, are underinsured and have no savings.

“The report shows the pre-COVID-19 base level of income support is completely inadequate and households had to consider skipping meals and going without other essentials.

“Our report has also shown that COVID-19 related financial supports have made a significant difference to the lives of people on low incomes, although single parent families are still struggling even with the Coronavirus Supplement.

“40 per cent of children living in single parent families were living in poverty before the pandemic. With unemployment on the rise, and more families relying on income support we cannot ever go back to the base level income of $40 per day.”

The QCOSS Living Affordability in Queensland report is an annual study undertaken by QCOSS in collaboration with Griffith University. This year’s report models the income and expenditure of five sample low-income household types in metropolitan Queensland and provides analysis of changes in cost of living relative to income.

According to the report, all five model households struggled to reach the most basic standards of living without the Coronavirus Supplement.

A basic standard of living is considered by the report to be one that goes just beyond survival and the bare necessities for example, food, shelter and clothing. However, the modelling leaves little to no room for unexpected costs that commonly disrupt households such as natural disasters, illness and injury, or relationship breakdowns.

The report also shows that paid employment does not guarantee living affordability. Three of the model households are considered to be ‘working poor’ because, despite being employed, they are unable to cover the basic costs of living.

The report’s analysis shows low-income households across Queensland are spending more than 50 per cent of their income on the basic essentials of housing and food.

“Our report provides insight into the impact of COVID-19 related financial supports on income adequacy and the extent to which these contribute to addressing disadvantage and poverty,” Ms McVeigh says.

“The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that, when there is political will, it is possible to pull people out of poverty.

“Governments must use the levers available to them to support the financial resilience of Queenslanders as we continue to live through the COVID-19 crisis. Income support must not return to below-poverty levels, the cost of living must be improved for low-income households and more must be done to assist households to better manage debt.”

View the 2 page summary of the report
View the full report
View the report infographic