Fears for Sydney’s Disadvantaged - Report
19 August 2014 at 9:56 am
New research has revealed a deep and persistent disadvantage for low income households in Sydney at a time when the looming Federal Budget looks set to hit those on the margins hardest.
Anglicare Sydney’s 6th annual State of Sydney report draws on nearly seven years of data from the organisation’s Emergency Relief Centres across Sydney and the Illawarra.
The report found there was an increasing trend in financial assistance provided to low income families jumping 73 per cent from an average of $98 in 2007 to $169 in 2014.
It also found that two out of three households were trying to live on less than $500 per week.
Anglicare’s Director of Advocacy and Research Sue King has described the results as “confronting”.
“It is the first time we have been able to report so comprehensively on disadvantage,” she said. “Even for those of us who work in the sector, the results are confronting.”
The report also found that almost 5,000 households in the region were experiencing homelessness over the period with children present in more than one in five households.
King said that to avoid homelessness, the only option available was private renting with affordability becoming a big issue.
“Almost one third (32%) of all households were in severe rental stress, spending more than 45% of their income on rent. This was particularly problematic for people in the private rental market,” she said.
“When families on low incomes spend a large proportion of their income on rent, they are forced to make hard choices. This winter maintaining shelter will take precedence over food for many households.
“We expect to see an upsurge in people accessing our services over the next few months to get assistance with both food and electricity bills.”
The report particularly highlights the issue for children in disadvantaged households and raises concerns about the intergenerational risk of deep and persistent disadvantage in Sydney and the Illawarra. It also found:
- Almost 1 in 10 families with children were living in squats, refuges, cars, on the street, in boarding houses, in emergency hotel/motel accommodation or staying with friends.
- 1 in 4 households had someone with a disability
Anglicare CEO Grant Millard said many clients are finding it difficult to maintain a roof over their heads with chronic housing affordability issues.
“Some cannot maintain their electricity bills. Many also have food insecurity issues with some going hungry so that their children can eat,” he said.
“We implore the Government to drop some of the changes to welfare payments proposed in the Budget. These include the proposal to stop income support for six months for young people under 30 and reducing the indexation of all payments.”