Study finds direct link between support payments and need for charity
A recent study from the University of Queensland, in partnership with Vinnies Queensland, has found a direct link between income support payments and the need for charitable assistance.
The study, which drew on assistance records from Vinnies Queensland and the Salvation Army, found requests for support were halved in 2020 when the COVID-19 income supplement was at a high of $550 per fortnight.
Requests for support were also down by around 27% when the supplement decreased to $250 a fortnight from October 2020.
Vinnies Queensland CEO Kevin Mercer said the study showed that increased financial support continued to be the most effective way to keep Queenslanders out of poverty and homelessness.
“A significant portion of people coming to us for help rely on support payments like JobSeeker to get by, which historically has been under the national poverty rate,” Mr Mercer said.
“This study shows that lifting our support payments to above the poverty rate has a significant impact on people’s ability to survive day-to-day and pay for rent, food and utility bills that they would otherwise struggle to afford.
Mr Mercer said the ending of the pandemic supplement came right when the state housing crisis and cost of rents began to skyrocket, causing more financial pressure on vulnerable Queenslanders.
“Over the last two to three years, Queensland has been hit by a housing crisis and dramatic increases in the cost of living,” he said.
“It’s no wonder the number of people coming to organisations like Vinnies for help has only increased since the pandemic supplement payments came to an end.”
Mr Mercer pointed to the study as another reason that lifting the JobSeeker rate to above the poverty line would make a significant improvement in the wellbeing of Queenslanders.
“The current JobSeeker rate of under $700 a fortnight for a single person with no children is not enough to survive, especially as rents and costs of living increase across the state,” he said.
“It’s not just us calling for a raise – there have been countless reports and comments from economic experts who recognise the benefit raising the rate would have.
“Living in poverty impacts every part of your life – we’ve had people coming to us who couldn’t afford transport or an appropriate outfit for a job interview without our help.
“By raising the rate, we can lift Queenslanders out of poverty, lower the risk of homelessness and set people up for long-term success.”
Mr Mercer called for the JobSeeker rate to increase to $76 a day, and to increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50 per cent to keep it in line with modern rent costs.
The number of people coming to Vinnies Queensland for support increased by more than 15 percent in the 2022-23 financial year, compared to the previous period.