ACOSS is urging the Albanese Government to move fast to substantially boost income support payments, with routine indexation grossly inadequate.
Income support payments including Youth Allowance and Austudy are adjusted for inflation on January 1 each year.
“The soaring cost of rent and other essentials is pushing people relying on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other income support payments deeper into poverty,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.
“The routine indexation of payments barely scratches the sides of what people living below the poverty line desperately need.
“These payments were already too low for people to afford the bare essentials of life before the cost of food, rent, medicines and energy began to soar, and they will be completely inadequate after indexation.”
The cost of renting a unit soared 23.7 per cent in the 12 months to September, while house rents jumped 13.2 per cent, across Australia’s combined capitals.
The default market offer for energy rose by about 20 per cent in some states. Meanwhile, rent assistance is just $92.20 per week for a single person without children.
Dr Goldie said the rate of income support must be lifted to at least $78 a day, in line with the Age Pension, and rent assistance by 50 per cent. “With six per cent indexation, both Youth Allowance and Austudy will rise by $36.20 to $639 a fortnight for a single adult living away from home and single person, respectively. That amounts to just $45.64 a day.
“There are more than three million people living in poverty in Australia. More than 5.3 million said they could not afford a Christmas meal.
“We know how to end poverty, and that’s by raising the rate of income support. It is wrong for one of the world’s wealthiest nations to continue condemning people on low incomes to poverty while going ahead with wasteful tax cuts for the wealthy.
“Scrapping Stage 3 would curb inflationary spending while helping those on the lowest incomes to afford the absolute basics of life.
“The federal government must provide meaningful cost of living relief without further delay. One off help is not enough. We must urgently boost the rate of income support to at least $78 a day, the same rate as the pension.”
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