Poverty line: the welfare struggle

THE poverty line rose $4.81 a week in the March quarter to $508.52 for a single person including housing, leaving many who rely on welfare further behind.

Tom Choriziak and Amy Nelson in their sharehouse kitchen ...  Ms Nelson, a Youth Allowance recipient, says she can’t afford to live in a place of her own. Picture: MARK JESSER

Tom Choriziak and Amy Nelson in their sharehouse kitchen ... Ms Nelson, a Youth Allowance recipient, says she can’t afford to live in a place of her own. Picture: MARK JESSER

A single person aged over 18 and living away from home on Youth Allowance is eligible for a maximum payment of $414.40 a fortnight.

They can also qualify for maximum rental assistance of $126.40, which is cut to $84.27 for people living in shared accommodation.

A single person with no children receiving Newstart gets $510.50 a fortnight, with the same rates of rent assistance.

This means that a person on Youth Allowance living in shared housing and receiving maximum payments is forced to live on less than half of the recognised poverty line in Australia.

Of those examples, the highest possible payment is $636.90 a fortnight for a person on Newstart receiving rent assistance for a single.

That is still $380.14 below the poverty line.

Youth Allowance recipient Amy Nelson said she could not afford to live in a place of her own, instead renting in a sharehouse with five others.

‘‘You want to look at decreasing that amount of rent as much as you possibly can, and living with more people usually means you’re paying less,’’ Ms Nelson said.

She said she often worked two or three jobs over summer to help pay for extras, such as car registration, rent and uni fees. 

The household just received a $1530 power bill.

‘‘I tapped into my savings to be able to pay for that power bill,’’ she said.

Anglicare’s 2014 Rental Affordability snapshot found that only three rental properties advertised in Tasmania were affordable for a person over 18 who was dependent on Youth Allowance. All were for rooms in sharehouses.

Less than 1 per cent of advertised properties in Tasmania were affordable for a single person dependent on Newstart. Of the eight properties found, five were rooms in sharehouses.

According to the 2011 census, Launceston had more than twice the rate of people living in shared housing than the rest of the country, at 9.5 per cent compared to 4.1 per cent.

The census found that 19.1per cent of rental households in Launceston suffered from housing stress, spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rental payments, double the statewide rate of 9.5 per cent, and almost twice the national rate of 10.4 per cent.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop