Salvos Study Reveals ‘Bleak Picture’
22 May 2013 at 1:26 pm
The Salvation Army has released a report on the economic and social impact of cost of living pressures on people accessing Emergency Relief revealing what it describes as a ‘bleak picture of everyday life’ for many Australians.
The Salvation Army Economic and Social Impact Survey (ESIS) for 2013 received 2,705 surveys nationally from respondents accessing the organisation’s emergency relief and community support services.
The survey provides a snapshot of the impact of cost of living pressures and the extent of social and economic deprivation and disadvantage experienced by these individuals and their families.
The Salvation Army says its second extensive Economic and Social Impact Survey paints a bleak picture of everyday life for many people in our communities.
“This report highlights that a significant proportion of people accessing The Salvation Army emergency relief and support services are struggling to meet routine expenses and financial commitments,” the report said.
“The striking similarities between this report and the 2012 report, in relation to both the demographic profile and the indicators of deprivation and disadvantage, show that little has changed for this portion of the population.
“What is clear in ESIS 2013, and supported by the many respondent comments, is that despite their struggles, people want to work and want to provide a more sustained and adequate standard of living for themselves and their children.
“The impact of inadequate economic resources is wide ranging and complex. Poverty and disadvantage have multiple causes and impacts affecting both individuals and families. The constant struggle to maintain an ‘adequate’ standard of living requires mediating expenses (e.g. bills, rent, food, etc.) within an extremely tight budget without access to emergency funds if anything goes wrong.
“Restricted economic circumstances compromise social connections for all involved and impacts health and wellbeing, thereby decreasing social links and personal capabilities.
“Job search and employment capacity appears to be compromised for many. This is not just a factor of low income security. Employment capacity is also impacted by health, caring responsibilities, educational levels and experience. ESIS 2013 however indicates that despite the availability of services to address job search and employment capacity, these strategies are not working for those individuals significantly disadvantaged within the community. As such, for many, there is little room to move forward and no capacity to move up and out of disadvantage."
The report found that in total, 90 per cent of respondents were in receipt of an income support payment. For those individuals who were unemployed, more than one third were in receipt of the Newstart Allowance (34%), 30 per cent were on a Disability Support Payment and 20 per cent were in receipt of the Parenting Payment (single rate).
51% of respondents have gone without meals
58% of respondents are unable to pay utility bills on time
92% of respondents have little or no savings in case of an emergency
53% of respondents cannot afford presents for family
The report included the fact that the survey cohort was significantly comprised of unemployed single mothers between the ages of 26 to 45, with children older than 7 years of age.
Most of these families are living in private rental and are reliant on Newstart Allowance. The survey cohort indicated the majority of families live in metropolitan suburbs of national cities.
The report said this cohort was significantly impacted by the recent changes to parenting payments that have seen them moved onto Newstart Allowance. According to the report, the Salvation Army and other community organisations in concert with ACOSS, the UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and business groups, including the Business Council of Australia, assert that this move has placed these individuals and their families at increased risk of poverty and disadvantage.
The full report can be downloaded here