Cost of living increases have been felt by most in 2022, but for people relying on Jobseeker, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment, they have been crushing.

People on low, fixed incomes were already struggling with covering basic costs before these price hikes, and so it stands to reason that their circumstances have worsened since. ACOSS surveyed 449 people living on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment between July and August 2022 to gauge how they are managing to cover the cost of basic goods and services in the face of skyrocketing living costs.

Unsurprisingly, the results are dire. People reported malnutrition from skipping meals, reducing their medication intake to make it last longer, and being at imminent threat of homelessness because they cannot afford the cost of rent. Many highlighted how it has become more difficult to keep a roof over their head and that they have had to give up even more essentials as a result of their incomes falling further behind the cost of living.

Key findings:

  • 62% have had difficulty getting medication or medical care due to the increased cost of living. Almost all (96%) said that the inability to cover the cost of living harmed their physical and mental health.
  • 62% are eating less or skipping meals while 71% are cutting back on meat, fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • 96% of people renting privately are in rental stress, paying more than 30% of their income on rent, while 48% have received a rent increase in the past 6 months, with a third reporting a rise of $30 or more a week.
  • 70% of people who regularly use a car said they had difficulty travelling to work, medical appointments, or other commitments as a result of increased fuel costs.
  • More than half (57%) of respondents are shortening or taking fewer showers because of increased energy costs. 7 in 10 are cutting their use of heating. 28% currently have energy bill debt and a further 22% expect to go into debt when they receive their next bill. 46% of respondents are going to bed early to keep warm.
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