Cost of living report – issue 3, June 2013

  • financial composition on the table with money, calculator and pen
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Queensland’s low-income earners experienced a recent reprieve in rising costs-of-living, but more pain in the hip pocket is on the way, according to a report released today.

The Queensland Council of Social Service’s (QCOSS) fifth Cost of Living Report, which tracks three example low-income households against data from March 2012 to March 2013, reveals what it takes to afford a very basic standard of living.

QCOSS CEO Mark Henley said while the two example working families were able to afford the basics, the unemployed individual remained unable to afford the austere living standards set out in the report.

“It is positive news that the situation improved for the two working families and this was due in part to low increases in the costs of goods and services and modest increases in household income,” Mr Henley said.

“In the case of our unemployed single person however, this individual still can not afford some of life’s most basic necessities – such as a decent and secure home, one substantial meal a day, medical treatment and transport.

“The report highlights the tough financial situation faced by our households who must count every dollar and who have little room to build up savings to cope with unexpected events.

“Since March, we have seen the price of electricity spike, insurance stamp duties increase and a raft of other tolls and charges rise – all of this will add to the cost of living pressures being felt by households.”

Mr Henley said rising costs of living had become a common topic of discussion, and an important political issue, however much of the debate failed to acknowledge that low-income households were the ones most seriously impacted.

“Small changes can make a big difference for some households and while the state and federal governments have provided some relief for low-income earners, more can and needs to be done to target support at those who need it most,” he said.

“We recommend that the Queensland Government undertake a comprehensive review of the existing concessions system to broaden eligibility and take-up rates, extend concessions to low-income earners, and conduct comprehensive annual reporting of concessions and subsidies.

“QCOSS also recommends that the Australian Government reinstate eligibility for all single parents to the Parenting Payment, raise the Newstart Allowance and provide more flexible and tailored support for disadvantaged jobseekers.

“By giving low-income households a fighting chance to afford a basic standard of living, we are also giving them a chance at building a stronger and more resilient future for themselves and future generations.”

Read the full report here.