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The surging cost of living is having a devastating impact for people on income support, with 68 per cent eating less or skipping meals, according to this report.

The research surveyed 365 people living on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment over February and March 2023, finding income support payments are completely inadequate.

The JobSeeker payment is just $50 a day and Youth Allowance is just $40 a day. It costs approximately $80 to fill a small car with unleaded fuel while average rents for a unit are $568 per week, or $81 a day.

Key findings:

  • 68% are eating less or skipping meals while 81% are cutting back on meat, fresh fruit, vegetables and other fresh items.
  • 68% have had difficulty getting medication or medical care due to the increased cost of living. 99% said that the inability to cover the cost of living harmed their mental health and 94% said it harmed their physical health
  • 93% of people renting privately are in rental stress, paying more than 30% of their income on rent. 75% have received a rent increase in the past 12 months, with 50% reporting a rise of $30 or more a week.
  • 76% said they use their car less than normal, and a further 11% don’t use their car at all.
  • 65% are cutting back on cooling/ heating and 45% are taking fewer hot showers to reduce energy costs

Key recommendations:

  • Lift income support payments to at least $76 a day, including JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy, Special Benefit and Parenting Payment.
  • Doubling Commonwealth Rent Assistance.
  • Establish a disability and illness supplement of at least $55 a week to recognise the additional costs that people with disability and chronic illness face.
  • Establish a single parent supplement that recognises the additional costs of single parenthood.
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