Mission Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council and Anglicare Australia are calling on the Commonwealth Government to recognise that Newstart and Youth Allowance payments are not enough to cover the cost of living.

New figures released by the Social Policy Research Centre show that people surviving on Newstart and Youth Allowance would need up to $96 per week more to cover their regular expenses.

Mission Australia CEO, Catherine Yeomans said:

“The figures show that Newstart and Youth Allowance are falling well short of the income that’s actually needed to cover bills, food and rent. This is leaving families and individuals with terrible choices, for example between paying the rent or putting food on the table.

“Without an adequate income people are forced into unsuitable, and often, unsafe accommodation because it is all they can afford. In the worst cases, they can lose their on-going accommodation and be pushed into homelessness.

“For so many people we support through our services the crippling cost of rent is a significant proportion of their income. Small changes in their financial circumstance, such as an unexpected health cost or an increase in their electricity bill, can really affect their ability to pay rent, throwing them into precarious and stressful situations.”

Executive Director of Anglicare Australia, Kasy Chambers said:

“This report tells us what we’ve already known for years – that government payments are so low that they’ve have become a poverty trap.

“Anglicare Australia’s own annual Rental Affordability Snapshot, along with our national food insecurity research, shows that people who rely on these payments cannot afford to pay for their most basic needs. Instead, they are forced to make unfair trade-offs: rent or food; rent or medical needs; bills or transport for work.

“We need to increase Newstart and Youth Allowance as a matter of urgency, and ensure that they are a living wage for the people who rely on them.”

St Vincent de Paul Society national CEO, Dr John Falzon said:

“We need the government to focus on income adequacy instead of income management.

“You don’t build people up by putting them down. You don’t help people into jobs by forcing them to live below the poverty line. You don’t address the structural causes of unemployment by punishing people. You don’t create an innovative economy or a fair society by allowing charity to become the default mode of delivering income support for people who bear the brunt of inequality.”

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