Despite the lessons learned from last year’s Cost of Living Report – that poverty has always been a choice the government makes – new figures from the 2020/21 financial year reveal that cost of living remains barely manageable for low-income households.
With the end of the Coronavirus supplement in March of this year, high levels of financial and personal distress are returning for low-income households. WACOSS’ 2021 Cost of Living Report has shown that, for the third year in a row, rental costs have skyrocketed while wages growth has remained low throughout the financial year.
Without the Coronavirus supplement and other economic support measures available for most of the Financial Year, rental cost increases alone would have left those in low-income households in a highly precarious position.
A model unemployed single person was able to exceed their basic living costs by $86.99 for only the second time since WACOSS began household modelling for its annual Cost of Living Report. Without the copronavirus supplement, they would have fallen short by nearly $30 a week.
The income of the model two parent family surpasses their estimated basic living costs by $186.87 per week. Considering their access to two sources of wages, they remain in the best position of the model houses but the rise in rental costs still saw their expenditure grow by a greater amount than their income.
WACOSS CEO Louise Giolitto said for the second year in a row the Cost of Living Report is able to demonstrate what is possible when people are provided with income that allows them to exceed their basic needs.
“When the financial and personal stress of having to cover the basics – housing, utilities, food and transport – is lifted, people are able to live and this has positive flow-on effects for the community and the economy,” Ms Giolitto said.
“For this reason, it is crucial the Federal Government permanently raise the rate of income support to enable all Australians to live free from poverty.”