Anti-Poverty Week brings call for JobSeeker rise as rent prices soar
With rental costs at an all-time high and rental vacancies at a record low across Queensland, Vinnies Queensland says people on JobSeeker are struggling to survive.
Interstate migration and low vacancy rates have sent rent prices skyrocketing in the last 12 months, with Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast rental rates reaching their highest ever in mid-2021.
CEO Kevin Mercer said with the average unit in Brisbane now renting for $400 a week, and single parents on JobSeeker expected to survive on $338 per week, it was critical that the rate be increased to keep up with the times.
“Queensland’s job hunters have always been expected to survive on below poverty incomes,” Mr Mercer said.
“But with rental costs booming in the last year, rental vacancy rates dropping to under 1 per cent across the state and entire industries still not recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, how is anyone supposed to continue to survive on the current JobSeeker rate?”
Mr Mercer said Anti-Poverty Week, held 17 to 23 October, was an important reminder that an estimated one in eight Queenslanders are still living in poverty.
He said the charity supported calls from the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) for a permanent increase of $25 a day to the current JobSeeker rates.
He said the value of increasing the rate was self-evident after seeing first-hand the benefit the 2020-2021 coronavirus supplements had on Queenslanders out of work.
“As a charity dedicated to helping those in need, those supplements were directly responsible for the notable reduction of calls from JobSeeker recipients desperate for help to pay their rent or feed their family that week,” he said.
“But once the supplements ended in April this year and rates returned to below-poverty levels, we have heard from more and more Queenslanders coming to us who are struggling to afford rent in the current housing climate.
“As we’ve seen throughout this year, this lack of affordable housing is driving more and more people to crisis accommodation or homelessness – Queenslanders deserve better.”
The Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS), the state’s peak body for community organisations, joined Vinnies Queensland in their call to raise the rate.
“212,300 children – more than 1 in 5 of all children in the state – have a parent relying on income support payments,” QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said.
“It is a devastating reality that many people can’t afford to feed their families and pay the rent – the JobSeeker rate must be raised.”
Rental prices for Brisbane houses increased by 12.5 per cent in the 2020-2021 financial year. In the 2020-2021 financial year, Vinnies Queensland provided $258 million in services and support on more than 181,000 occasions to Queenslanders in need.