Centrelink ‘trapping people in poverty’

Couple calculating bills at home using tablet and calculator. Young couple working on computer while calculating finances sitting on couch. Young  man with  wife at home analyzing their finance with documents.
The government is being urged to increase JobSeeker payments.

The government is being urged to increase JobSeeker payments, after new analysis shows those living on centrelink payments are unable to afford essentials such as rent, food and transport.

Anglicare Australia’s 2024 cost of living index, which compared data on key living costs against rates of income support, found a family of four with two parents on JobSeeker wouldn’t be able to afford rent, food and transport.

The report found the family would fall short by $17, “meaning they are much more likely to live in unsuitable accommodation and be cutting back on household expenses such as food”.

Couple receiving home bills
The report showed average rents had risen more than 50 per cent since 2020.

A single parent on the Parenting Payment would have $24, or about $3 per day, left over after rent, transport and food, while a JobSeeker recipient living in a sharehouse would have $18 leftover per day.

A JobSeeper recipient would not have enough money to move out of a sharehouse and live in a one bedroom rental, the analysis found.

The report also showed average rents had risen more than 50 per cent since 2020.

Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said it had never been harder to live on JobSeeker and other Centrelink payments, “with living costs spiralling and rent costing more than ever.”

Serious Couple Paying Bills Together at Home
Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said Centrelink payments had been too low for too long.

“That’s why Anglicare Australia has been calling for years on the Government to raise the rate of Centrelink payments above the poverty line,” Ms Chambers said.

“These payments have been too low for too long, trapping people in poverty instead of helping them escape it.”

Ms Chambers said because Centrelink payments didn’t cover the costs of essentials, like food and rent, people were being forced to skip meals, avoid medical care, and cram their families into overcrowded homes.

“Some are being pushed into debt spirals just to keep up with everyday costs,” she said.

“These numbers show us that Australians doing it tough need real action, and real leadership. That means raising the rate of Centrelink payments, ending unlimited increases, and building more social housing.

“We must raise the rate of these payments. Without action, people will be pushed even deeper into hardship, poverty and homelessness.”