QCOSS cost of living report – special edition: The cost of living and age pensioner households, issue 1 2013

  • Empty wallet in the hands of an elderly man
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The rising cost of living has become a common topic of conversation as it undoubtedly impacts on many Australians. However much of the debate on this topic fails to acknowledge
it is low-income households – those experiencing poverty and disadvantage – who are most impacted by rises in the cost of goods and services.

Queenslanders relying on the age pension and other government supports are another group who are significantly impacted by cost-of-living pressures. In 2009-10 there were more than
two million Australians receiving the age pension. While some pensioners have access to superannuation or other income sources to supplement the age pension, many rely solely on
the age pension as their primary source of household income, regardless of whether they rent or own their own home.

This report examines the capacity of four example pensioner households to meet a basic standard of living. The report uses publicly available data to estimate the basic income and expenditure for these four households.

This report shows that housing costs have a significant impact on the capacity of pensioners to meet a basic standard of living. In particular, the research shows that pensioners living in
private rental properties in the Brisbane area cannot meet the costs associated with a basic standard of living. It is argued that pensioners in this situation have to make compromises
about their housing, transport or other living expenses, which may undermine their capacity to lead a quality life.

Queensland’s population is ageing rapidly, with projections suggesting that the number of people aged 65 to 84 will more than double from 491,000 in 2010 to 1.3 million by 2050,
putting additional pressures on social services and other supports. Currently older women are overrepresented as age pension recipients and are more likely to receive the maximum rate.
This might be because women find it more difficult to accumulate superannuation through either compulsory or voluntary contributions. Single women are also reportedly overrepresented as pension recipients, being nearly double the number of single men receiving pensions.

This report calls for urgent action to address the significant costs associated with the provision of housing for Queenslanders who are dependent on the age pension for survival.

Read the full report here.