Vinnies says poor shoulder greater cost burden
Coinciding with debate over how the Federal Government should spend its expected $11.5 billion budget surplus, is the latest research from the St Vincent de Paul Society, which details how a disproportionate burden of cost increases has fallen on low-income households.
The research shows that specific groups within the community have experienced harsher changes in the cost of living. Aged and Disability Support pensioners who are reliant on the rental market and public transport, for example, have experienced cost increases that were 30% greater than the underlying inflation rate.
Similarly, a number of essential goods and services have shown cost increases greater than the non-essentials.
The costs of hospital and medical services, for example, have increased by 180% above the inflation rate and education costs have increased by 200% above the inflation rate.
In Social Policy Issues Paper 2, Winners and Losers: The Story of Costs, Vinnies Researcher, Mr Gavin Dufty found that since 1990 there has been a growth in inequality due to changes in the cost burdens of various goods and services: "These cost pressures have especially hit the aged, parents and those reliant on the rental housing market and public transport."
The paper notes: "These findings raise significant policy issues for both Governments and the broader community as they reveal the inequitable impacts of changes in cost pressures from the public purse to the private pocket, the reduction of cross-subsidies and the resultant impacts on various households. This raises issues for governments, in particular the adequacy and targeting of cash and non-cash transfers and the extent to which these have ameliorated the impacts of ongoing economic reform.
"Governments have a duty of care for their citizens. This duty of care is not duly fulfilled when government responsibilities are abrogated in the interests of cementing ever greater wins for those who are already winners, leaving the losers to seek assistance for electricity bills, medical costs and school excursions from charities such as the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Vinnies expects that recent Welfare and IR reforms will further reduce the chances of low-income families to pay for the essentials on a day-to-day basis.
Poor households bear greater cost burden - Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul Society 19/12/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Winners and Losers: The Story of Costs (St Vincent de Paul Society Social Policy Research Paper 2 19/12/05)
St Vincent de Paul Low Income Families (ABC Radio National Breakfast 19/12/05)
20 Dec 2005