Survey shows one in four people go without basics

A new survey shows one in four people in Australia go without household essentials and can’t pay bills because their cost of living has become too expensive.

The survey of 1,000 people across the country by not-for-profit Good Shepherd Microfinance also shows 27 per cent couldn’t pay for medical treatment they needed, 21 per cent went without food and 20 per cent couldn’t afford home appliances in the past year.

Good Shepherd Microfinance CEO Adam Mooney said the survey demonstrated the urgent need to increase Newstart so that more people could meet the costs of basic living expenses like car repairs, paying for utilities or having a pet.

“The reality is that Newstart hasn’t kept up with the cost of living which means that families and individuals are struggling with the basics,” Mr Mooney said.

“But this survey also reveals that even people earning an income are doing it tough and, unfortunately, more are turning to expensive fast cash or payday loans just to cover the essentials of living.

“A better alternative is our No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) which offers loans of up to $1,500 at more than 690 locations across the country. NILS is designed to reach people on low incomes who need to purchase essential items or services.”

The survey revealed the costs people most struggled to afford were power bills (29%), repairing or registering their car (23%), replacing appliances (9%), medical bills (8%), food (6%) education costs (6%), water bills (4%) and phone bills (3%).

Mr Mooney said the respondents also raised the cost of fuel, rent, rates, credit cards and health insurance. Asked when they would most likely be in a better financial position, a quarter needed to pay off debt, 13 per cent said they needed a job, 10 per cent wanted more hours at work, and eight per cent said when they no longer supported children. However, 12 per cent could not see a time when things would get better.

“People are trying to juggle but worry about their children going without or losing their independence,” Mr Mooney said. “Comments made to the survey are a wake-up call – clearly having a job no longer means financial security with responses such as ‘After 40 years of working, worrying about finances is very disheartening’ and ‘I stress about being retired and not being able to top up finances’.”

Media contact: Barbara Cox – 0403 090 913 or Kellie Evans – 0418 568 464

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