Centrelink’s cruelty is being felt in Tasmania too. Lucy Stone (The Examiner 21 July 2017) writes that this has prompted Anglicare, a key welfare provider, to speak out.
It costs more to be poor: that’s a hard fact Anglicare Tasmania points to as a strong reason to overhaul government welfare payments.
“When you live from week to week with nothing to spare you can’t take advantage of things that would save you money,” Anglicare Tasmania’s Meg Webb said.
“People on income support payments often have to spend up to 70% of their income on rent.”
In Friday’s The Examiner, Bianca* spoke about the challenges of living on a $647 fortnightly Centrelink payment with no other income.
Locked into expensive rental and phone contracts, facing health issues, Bianca said she would be homeless without support from her family and social services.
The support sector has long been pushing for increases in welfare payments to keep people out of poverty.
“Centrelink payments do not come close to the minimum income needed to support an individual or family and this can cause extreme stress, especially in winter when choices must be made between keeping your family warm or feeding them,” TasCOSS acting chief executive Jo Flanagan said.
A young person aged between 16-24, living away from home, can receive a maximum $437.50 per fortnight, not including rent assistance.
The average rent in Launceston, as reported by Domain, is $185 for a one-bedroom unit or $295 for a two-bedroom house per week.
Centrelink payments do not come close to the minimum income needed.
Anglicare’s most recent rental affordability snapshot, released in April, showed that those who have least access to properties in the North are those on Youth Allowance, with just 10-12 per cent access, single adults on Newstart, and single parents on Newstart (16-17 per cent).
The high costs of living can push many people into extreme rental stress with more than 50 per cent of their income going to rent.
“In the current job market, with people on Newstart outnumbering available jobs by five to one, we are seeing people becoming entrenched in poverty due to the inadequate level of payments,” Ms Webb said.
“The system makes people exhaust all their savings before getting support and then they have nothing left for a rainy day.
“Our welfare safety net should be there to support people while they find work and get back on their feet.”
- *Name changed