Queensland single parent families are losing more than $10,000 a year trying to maintain a “basic standard of living” as wage growth struggles to keep up with record inflation.
A new report by the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) revealed the damning data which shows single, unemployed parents, and couples with two children are battling against the widest gap in living affordability in the state.
For single, unemployed parents with two children, the weekly budget deficit is around $200.53 or about $10,400 annually.
“This household faces high levels of deprivation and is highly vulnerable to financial shocks and indebtedness,” the report read.
Couples with two children have a weekly budget deficit of $174.40 or $9,000 annually.
In the year ending March 2022, inflation grew by 6.0 per cent and is forecast to climb to 7.75 per cent by the end of the year.
Products ranging from petrol to breakfast cereals have seen major price hikes in the year to September 2022.
Petrol and vegetables went up by more than 17 per cent while breakfast cereals, holiday accommodation and dairy products went up by more than 12 per cent each.
The Australian Energy Regulator found that between January and March this year, more than 26,000 customers entered into hardship programs to help repay electricity debt.
More than a quarter of these customers were more than $2,500 in debt.
Location also had a big impact on who came out worse off – with Toowoomba and Cannonvale residents represented largely among the lowest-income workers.
In Brisbane, there are currently no affordable properties available for a single person accessing income support payments like Jobseeker.
Minimum wage households are much more likely to find an affordable rental in Central Queensland with almost 50 per cent of rental stock considered “affordable”.
The report’s authors have recommended income support payments be increased to prevent families from slipping further into poverty.
Nearly 68 per cent of people who receive the Parenting Payment for singles reported no other earned income in the previous fortnight and almost 95 per cent of people who receive this payment are women.
Unemployed women over the age of 50 are now one of the fastest growing groups of people experiencing homelessness.
The authors found that when income support payments were increased during COVID-19, child poverty rates for children of single parents reduced to a low of 17 per cent.