Federal Budget fails to meaningfully address cost of living pressures

29 March 2022

The 2022 Federal Budget is the latest in a series of missed opportunities to address unsustainable cost of living pressures confronting people on low incomes, according to the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.

“Organisations in the sector have long been advocating for greater income support payments,” said Jack de Groot, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW Chief Executive Officer.

“Instead, what they’ve been dealt – a one-off $250 payment – is a completely inadequate response to the unsustainable and ongoing cost of living pressures that are leaving people on low incomes further behind.

“Put simply, this move is a band-aid that fails to rectify the long-term inadequacies that force the most vulnerable members of our community into poverty.

“People need long-term certainty to make plans beyond one day at a time.

“When you go to the supermarket, fill up your car or look at the housing market, it’s not a stretch to say many people are doing it worse than pre-pandemic.

“This is a sentiment held by households with multiple incomes, so for people who rely upon completely inadequate support payments and turn to charities, like the Society, just so they can put food on the table, it’s absolutely crippling.

“We know that the most effective way to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged people is to lift the base rate of income support payments.

“What we’re suggesting is not a hypothetical scenario, we’ve seen the benefits of raising the JobSeeker payment during the first year of the pandemic, which are proof positive that meaningful action not only can be taken – but should.”

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW State Council President, Paul Burton, expressed similar disappointment over the lack of funding for social housing.

“Our members assist people struggling with the everyday costs of living by offering practical support with food, clothing, financial aid and taking the time to understand their situations,” Mr Burton said.

“For all the work our people do in communities across the state every day, there is only so much that the Society alone can achieve to break the cycle of poverty without greater investment in social housing.

“It should be noted that demand for social housing outstripping supply is not just an issue affecting our larger cities but is being experienced at unprecedented levels in regional areas.

“Options outside the increasingly unaffordable private rental market are much more limited there and disasters such as the Northern Rivers floods only serve to reduce the number of viable homes.

“The budget announcement to extend assistance to first-home buyers is noted, but for people who are having to regularly skip meals to ensure their children don’t go without, the most practical response would be to provide the stability of social housing.

“We have worked collaboratively with all levels of government on this issue and will continue to do so going forward to ensure that everyone has a safe and secure place to call their own.”

The Society NSW welcomes the announcement of funding for mental health and suicide prevention services, investment in initiatives to help end violence against women and children, as well as support to create an additional 15,000 aged care worker training positions.

Media contact: Lachlan Jones  |  0417 446 430