Challenges for Low Income Families – Hardship Survey
Thursday, 2nd June 2011 at 10:25 am
Paul McDonald, CEO of Anglicare Victoria says the 2011 Hardship Survey gives a graphic insight into the daily challenges facing low income families.
The report shows that 55 percent of participants had an ongoing disability or medical condition and one quarter of those surveyed could not afford to buy medicine prescribed to them by a doctor.
Other significant items that were unaffordable for survey participants included $500 savings in case of emergency, home contents insurance and comprehensive car insurance.
On top of this, 20 per cent of survey respondents said they lived in a home without secure locks on their doors and windows.
McDonald says not only are families and individuals pushed right to the edge week in and week out but many of them are just a sickness or car accident away from crippling financial debt they may never recover from.
He says the survey challenged the misconception that welfare recipients are wasteful with their money, showing that clients of emergency relief services spend an average of just 4.4 per cent of their weekly budget on alcohol, tobacco, drugs or gambling.
In total 70 per cent of average weekly spending goes on basics such as housing, heating, groceries and clothing – leaving very little for things like transport, medical treatment or any sort of education or skill development.
McDonald says many emergency relief clients were caught in a debt spiral and were increasingly unable to make ends meet.
He says Anglicare’s emergency relief clients spend around 10 per cent of their weekly budget paying off debts such as payday lender, family and friends.
He says the organisation knows from previous surveys that up to 40 per cent of our emergency relief clients are on reduced welfare payments for various reasons and this has a massive impact on their ability to budget for weekly expenses and make ends meet.
He says nine out of ten people who took part in the 2010 survey had been forced to borrow money from family or friends and one had resorted to pawning personal items to get by.
Anglicare Victoria has called for a review of the social security safety net in light of recent steep rises in the cost of basics such as housing, food and utilities.
The full report can be downloaded at http://www.anglicarevic.org.au/index.php?action=filemanager&folder_id=2410&pageID=6102§ionID=5948