Coming up $135 short a week — the Australians struggling to survive

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun6,2024
Key Points
  • Australians on JobSeeker cannot afford the basics on current support payments, new data shows.
  • Anglicare Australia is pushing for a payment increase measured against rising costs, not the consumer price index.
  • The treasurer increased JobSeeker last year, but welfare groups said the boost did not go far enough.
Australians are struggling to keep up with rising costs, with those on support payments unable to cover the basics, according to new data.
Anglicare Australia is calling for the government to boost JobSeeker, with data released on Thursday showing some can’t live off the existing payments.

Its annual Cost of Living Index report compares the rising costs of three expenses against the weekly income support payments, with other costs such as phone bills or utilities not included.

It found that a single JobSeeker recipient under the age of 35 could only afford the basics, rent, food and transport if they lived in shared accommodation.
Otherwise, they fell short $135. Anglicare worked off a figure of $671 a week for a single person under the age of 35 on JobSeeker, which included Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA).

Those living in shared accommodation had $127 remaining for other expenses.

Jobseeker payments compared to the average basic weekly costs for recipients.

Meanwhile, a single parent on the Parenting Payment — for which Anglicare worked off a figure of $1,088 a week (including CRA) — has just $24 left, or $3 a day.

Anglicare Australia said that with essential costs growing faster than inflation, Centrelink payments could not keep up.
Rental affordability — at its worst in at least 17 years, according to PropTrack’s 2024 report — was highlighted as unaffordable for those on low incomes.

All the households examined were deemed under housing stress, having spent more than 30 per cent of their household budget on rent.

A graph showing has rent has risen over the last five years.

Anglicare Australia’s executive director Kasy Chambers said the payments had remained “too low for too long” as she called for a “real” increase.

“Centrelink payments simply do not cover the costs of essentials, like food and rent,” she said.

“That means people are being forced to skip meals, avoid medical care, and cram their families into overcrowded homes. Some are being pushed into debt spirals just to keep up with everyday costs.”

When was the last JobSeeker boost?

Treasurer Jim Chalmers increased JobSeeker, along with other support payments, by $40 a fortnight in
However, the government was criticised by recipients and welfare groups alike that the boost of $2.85 a day was not enough.
Anglicare Australia said indexing Centrelink payments against the consumer price index, instead of a measure that rises with essential living costs, means “payments are well below the poverty line”.

“We must raise the rate of these payments. Without action, people will be pushed even deeper into hardship, poverty and homelessness,” Chambers said.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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