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Call for more charity as cost of living data shows some households better off during crisis

The South Australian Council of Social Service today launched its latest Cost of Living Update looking at the impact of the summer’s bushfires and the coronavirus on SA households. The report shows how the coronavirus particularly has impacted differently on different households. Those who lost jobs or working hours, especially those who are outside the government safety net, have obviously been hit hard, but some households are likely to be financially better off: those working extra hours, or simply maintaining their incomes but with lower living costs. These households are still going to be dealing with all the non-financial stresses and restrictions of the crisis, but SACOSS is calling on those who are not financially impacted to give extra money to charities who are helping those who are hardest hit.

SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley said, 
“Community organisations in South Australia are continuing to provide meals to those without food, mental health care to those who are struggling, basic help and care for those living with disabilities, support to refugees and to those experiencing domestic or family violence, and emergency financial support for those who have no money. This was the case before the coronavirus, and it has continued and been even more important throughout the crisis.”

“However, these charities are themselves struggling because their usual methods of fundraising may not be possible during the crisis or they’ve been hit because thousands of their supporters suddenly find themselves with less work and money. Therefore, it is vital that those of us who are still doing ok, step up now and help out our charities.”

“Our report paints a complex picture. We realised we can’t really talk about an “average” household, so we tried to map what is happening for different households – their income and their consumption patterns, and what government supports are available to them.”

The key table from the report showing this mapping is appended to this release.

Ross Womersley said
“It is not surprising that those who have lost jobs or employed hours due to the coronavirus restrictions are worse off. There’s a particularly bad impact for international students and migrant/refugee workers who have lost their incomes and who are not entitled to government support. There’s just no doubt we need to extend the safety net to all people living here – both for moral and public health reasons.”

“However, for anyone whose work and income hasn’t changed (or who are even getting extra hours of work), then price decreases for some key household expenditures and restrictions on travel and recreation mean they are probably spending far less than normal. So we are asking people in that situation to think about sharing some of that newly freed-up income with those who are really needing it right now.”

“Obviously we are not asking people who were previously unemployed to dip into their pockets just because they are (temporarily) better off with the Coronavirus Supplement. Their incomes were woefully inadequate and for a moment, the Supplement just addresses that historic unfairness. In fact, our report shows just how important this supplement is. Before it came into effect, rising prices meant that those looking for work were worse off than they were a year ago. This yet again underlines why we should not go back to the previous appalling levels of payment.”

And right now, despite the fact that governments, both state and federal have provided great supports in many areas in response to the COVID-19 crisis our mapping of cost of living pressures shows that there are still many who are missing out.  Thus, we need to get behind our charities and the not-for-profit sector and help them to keep doing best in this time of need.”

Arrows show direction of income and expenditure. Diagonal arrows represent where some households may experience an increase/decrease in usage depending on their circumstances. The rationale for each direction is set out in the full report.

The Cost of Living Update will available tonight: https://www.sacoss.org.au/reports/cost-living


For further information/comment, contact:
Ross Womersley SACOSS CEO 0418 805 426
Tania Baxter SACOSS Communications Coordinator 0432 902 105

Published Date: 
Wednesday, 6 May 2020