May 4, 2012

All doled up, nowhere to go: when the cost of living really bites

Joe Hockey's recent speeches calling for a reduction in future expenditure on welfare was targeted at "expectations" of welfare recipients -- their welfare payments, writes Lionel Elmore.

There was plenty of talk in Crikey yesterday about the cost of living and whether us whingeing Australians need to realign our expectations. All heavily qualified with a nod to those in “the bottom quintile of incomes,” as Bernard Keane put it, “who spend a much bigger proportion of their income on necessities than the rest of us. But even they have enjoyed nearly 20% growth in real income over the last 30 years.” But what about the people with no prospect of a regular income?

Eva Cox acknowledged the bracket of people who really are #doingittough (yes a hash tag on Twitter started trending) — people beyond the bottom quintile of incomes who are attempting to live off Newstart — when she wrote, “it is obvious that those dependent on dole payments are grossly underpaid.”

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

5 thoughts on “All doled up, nowhere to go: when the cost of living really bites

  1. TormentedbytheDs

    I get $199.00 a fortnight as my wife earns $23,000 a year part time and I get another $5,000.00 from the remnants of my business. Luckily, it seems I may have a job in the next few weeks. I am trying not to get to enthusiastic as hopes have been dashed many times before. It is an entry level help desk role in an industry I have been in for twenty five years. I am to old for work for the dole but I have done all the job agency appointments with the list of jobs applied for most with no reply. The agency, in all this time, has never come up with one potential job. All they seem to want to do is push “training courses” which they get paid to run by the government.

    Under the Australian Bureau of Statistics rules, of course, I am not even unemployed.

    I don’t have to pay a mortgage or rent and I live in the bosom of a large and generous family so I am better of than most. How anyone, with no other resources, could survive on the dole I find impossible to imagine.

    By the way, am I correct that the one group not being compensated for the carbon tax is the unemployed?

  2. cpobke

    undoubtedly very hard to live of newstart.
    Newstart is indexed to CPI so in theory, so no more difficult than in
    the past unless price changes favour luxury goods compared to
    necessities (there is probably some good systematic research on this,
    but i am not aware of it off the top of my head).
    A few points of correction. As far as i know:
    – Newstart allowance for a single adult is $243 per week. This equates
    to around $35 per day, not $17.
    – Partner’s income earned in Australia does not affect Newstart payment
    – You don’t have to reduce your savings to any specified amount to get
    newstart, but if it is above $3000 (for single) you would have some
    waiting period. For a large amount of cash savings this would be a
    maximum of 13 weeks.
    -the requirement on single mothers you point to would only be in effect
    when their youngest child in above 6 years of age (so at school)

  3. cpobke

    Actually, i am reliably informed i am mistaken on partner’s income,
    which will reduce newstart entitlement.

  4. Scott Grant

    I have often thought that every federal politician, in order to get paid, should be required to follow whatever rules are in force at Centrelink for the Newstart allowance. Especially the bits where payment is suspended for breaching the rules. And all paperwork to be done by their own hand. I imagine the rules would rapidly become less onerous and more sane.

  5. lilac

    So Newstart is $243/week would you mind telling me how it is possible for anyone to be able to service a mortgage or pay rent, buy food and pay for utilites on that? Let alone the of purchasing public transport tickets to attend job interviews as running a vehicle is beyond the persons means.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details