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Centrelink payments aren't enough and need to increase, advocate warns

Anglicare said the rising cost of living is far outpacing what welfare recipients receive.

Anglicare Australia is calling on the government to increase Centrelink payments to help struggling Aussies keep up with the rising cost of living. Recipients saw a jump in their payments last month, however the social advocacy organisation said it’s still not enough.

New research found in Anglicare’s Back to Basics report shows many welfare payments like JobSeeker aren’t keeping up with the consumer price index (CPI) and, as a result, aren’t providing the relief that they’re meant to.

One Centrelink recipient told Yahoo Finance that any time the payments go up, everything else gets more expensive.

Anglicare executive director Kasy Chambers next to people lining up for Centrelink
Anglicare executive director Kasy Chambers said Centrelink payments need to increase. (Source: AAP/Getty)

Have you been struggling to keep up with inflation while on Centrelink? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

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“The last time we got an increase from Centrelink as a single, it was about $34 a fortnight,” she explained. “My rent went up $17 a week! So in the fortnight, I lost that same money I got from the government on rent.

“I am worse off than before the increase. I never get out of the door, other than paying my bills every fortnight, and to get a few groceries, mainly for my animals. My fridge is always clean empty because there is not much money left for myself.”

Anglicare’s report shows this story is all too common in Australia.

The organisation’s research found costs related to housing, electricity, food and groceries, and transport have all jumped in recent years, while Centrelink payments haven’t increased in the same way. Anglicare executive director Kasy Chambers said “it costs more to be poor”.

“For decades, people on the lowest incomes were already falling short on the cost of basics,” she said in a statement. “But over the last two years, the cost of essentials like rent, food, and utilities has been skyrocketing.

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“When their incomes fall even further behind living costs, they have no room to move and no other costs to cut out of their budgets. That punishes people who are already earning less.

“Some people find themselves in debt spirals trying to juggle all of their costs. Others forego basic essentials by skipping meals, missing medical appointments, and avoiding getting insurance – only to pay for it down the track.”

Centrelink 'needs to go above the Henderson Poverty Line'

Anglicare is calling on the government to raise the level of all Centrelink payments above the Henderson Poverty Line, which is a unit of measurement created to define where poverty starts in Australia.

The latest line indicates a couple in the workforce needs to earn $804.61 per week to stay out of poverty, while a working single person needs $601.50 per week. Couples not working require $690.87 a week and an unemployed single person has to receive $487.73 a week.

The current rate of JobSeeker is $762.70 per fortnight for singles with no children and $698.30 per person for a couple every two weeks.

“These numbers show us that Australians doing it tough need real action, and real leadership,” Chambers said.

“That means raising the rate of Centrelink payments, making the minimum wage a living wage, and creating cheaper insurance and energy options for people who need them.”

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