Each year, QCOSS produces a Living Affordability Report to determine whether low-income households can afford a basic standard of living. The 2022 Living Affordability in Queensland report documents the impacts of high inflation, rising energy costs and low housing affordability, which are key drivers of financial hardship for Queensland households.

Low income households are spending most of their income on basic goods and services, such as food, housing, and energy, with very little room for discretionary spending. In QCOSS model examples, none of the households receive enough income to meet a basic standard of living, with the exception of a couple accessing the Age Pension. This includes a household where the main income is a full-time worker with an hourly rate 35 per cent above minimum wage.

Table 1: Percentage increase in prices from Sep 2021 to Sep 2022, sourced from ABS CPI data. It details increases at an average of 10% across fuel, vegetables, meat, health, and essentials including food and clothing. Download the full report for more.

All modelled households are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. These households are considered to be in housing stress. Concerningly, rental data indicates that 0 per cent of available rental properties were affordable to a single person accessing JobSeeker in Brisbane. The availability of affordable rental properties for people accessing JobSeeker remains low across regional areas of Queensland.

These households face high levels of deprivation and are highly vulnerable to financial shocks and indebtedness. This can result in households needing to make financial decisions that are not in the best interests of the household. For example, due to high inflation for foods such as meat and vegetables, households are more likely to substitute healthy foods with cheaper alternatives, which impacts on their daily nutrition. These households may resort to using short-term finance and pay day lenders to meet any unexpected expenses or to meet debt repayments.

For many households on low incomes and income support payments, financial stress and vulnerability are persistent and entrenched. With the right policy settings and adequate income support, it is possible to minimise deprivation and break cycles of disadvantage.

Monitoring cost-of-living pressures as well as sufficiency of government payments, concessions and rebates provides an evidence base that can support policy reform to reduce cost-of-living pressures for low-income households.

For many households on low incomes and income support payments, financial stress and vulnerability are not one-off transient experiences but persistent and entrenched. With the right policy settings and adequate income support, it is possible to minimise deprivation and break cycles of disadvantage.

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14 December 2022 | Focus area: