- by theguardian
- 29 Mar 2023
After months spent trying to stretch jobseeker payments amid a cost-of-living crisis, Paulene Hutton hoped for some relief in the budget. But there was none.
That disappointment has been shared by welfare groups, many of them saying the budget should have raised income support payments and increased support for people struggling with relentless cost-of-living demands.
The Albanese government had ruled out raising welfare benefits prior to the budget, pointing to the routine indexation of payments, which, as a result of rising inflation, lifted jobseeker payments to a base rate of $48 a day earlier this year.
As of March 2022, there were already more than 270,000 Australians in energy debt, according to the Australian Energy Regulator, with the average debt of people in hardship programs at $1,700. Acoss told Guardian Australia it expected this figure to increase.
Hutton, a single mum living in Brisbane, earns around $1,000 a fortnight from her jobseeker payment and the work she can pick up at a clothes shop. She said she was already struggling to pay her bills, currently waiting until her bill was overdue so she could request a payment plan of around $60 a fortnight.
But her main concern, and the reason she was holding out for some relief in the budget, was that her family had been asked to move out of their rental so the landlord can renovate. Struggling to find anything she can afford in a city that is embroiled in a housing crisis, she said she was seriously considering moving to a campground.
She had managed to keep the bill around $30-$40 a quarter, but it recently jumped up to $70, which put huge pressure on her budget. She was apprehensive about it climbing by 50% to $95 a quarter.
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