The Salvation Army is urging the Federal Government to reconsider its decision not to increase the Newstart allowance after research has revealed the devastating hardship many Australians, especially those in regional towns like Young, are facing.
The 2018 Economic and Social Impact Survey (ESIS), a survey of 1,267 people who call on Salvation Army services, has found the average Newstart recipients are living on just $17.00 a day after accommodation expenses.
The survey included stories of people fighting to survive on a Newstart allowance, which has failed to rise with inflation for 24 years.
The Salvation Army’s Captain Lesley Newton said the research confirms the Federal budget failed Australians doing it tough.
“It is simply inhumane that corporations and wealthy households are handed a tax cut, while the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in this country continue to be ignored,” she said.
“It is widely acknowledged it will take a minimum increase of $75 a week just to ensure people can live on the poverty line – let alone above it.”
The survey also revealed that 81 per cent of respondents who are privately renting or paying a mortgage are living under extreme housing stress, spending more than half of their income towards housing. Households with children are worse off with more than 90 per cent under extreme housing stress.
It also found more than two out of five households with children are experiencing food insecurity, and are unable to afford either three meals a day, fresh fruit or vegetables every day, or at least one meal a day with meat, chicken or vegetable equivalent.
The Salvation Army says the inaction of the Federal Government will put further pressure on the charity to help families make ends meet.
“With increases in the cost of living, we see people going without medication, skipping meals and adequate winter heating because they are caught in the cycle of poverty,” Captain Newton said.
“The Salvos can only meet the great need within our community because, year after year, Australians come together to stand by those doing it tough.”
But Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Newstart is only meant as a “safety net” to get recipients back into work.
“The proportion of working age Australians now dependent on welfare is at its lowest level in over twenty five years,” he said.
“The Newstart Allowance was designed to provide a safety net for people who require financial assistance while unemployed and looking for work.”