The majority (85%) of ESIS respondents were recipients of income support, while 7% were either in full time or part time work. There was a 5% increase in the number of Newstart Allowance recipients in this year’s sample, although the percentages across the other categories of income support remained similar to last year.
ESIS research uncovered that income support recipients had an estimated $16.96 per day (nearly $119 per week) to spend after paying for their accommodation expenses. For those on Newstart Allowance, this reduced to $15.29 per day ($107 per week61) to spend after accommodation expenses; $5 less per day compared to other62 government income support recipients. This highlights the gross inadequacy for Newstart recipients, who are expected to survive with low allowance rates that do not cover the basic standard of living.
Across all households, families with children were equally disadvantaged and lived on an estimated $14-16 per day. ESIS findings reveal that recipients on income support and allowances continue to live below the poverty line63 as payments are not sufficient to cover the day-to-day costs of living. The Salvation Army believes that income support allowances should increase in line with wage increases and inflation to provide adequate levels of support for the most disadvantaged cohorts.
In particular, respondents seekingemployment reported they haveencountered many challenges tryingto enter the workforce and sustainemployment. Forty-two per cent ofrespondents who had been lookingfor work experienced persistentunemployment and had been outof work for more than 12 months.One in four jobseekers reported thatprolonged unemployment made ithard for them to find a job, and 20%reported a lack of job opportunitiesin their local areas was the mainreason that precluded them fromseeking and gaining employment.
Significantly, the majority ofrespondents (70%) who werecompletely out of the labour forcereported that a current physical and/or mental health issue was the mainreason that prevented them fromengaging in the workforce.