13 August 2018

Poverty rate twice as high in regional SA

New SACOSS figures show 7.1% of households below poverty line in Adelaide and 14.8% below line in rest of state

SACOSS is today releasing a substantial piece of research into poverty in SA. This includes the calculation of a brand new and more accurate poverty line specific to SA. This is the first time SA-specific data has been used in this way.

Our new research finds that:
60,660 households in SA are living below the poverty line. This represents 9% of all SA households
131,945 people or 8% of the population are living in poverty, including 22,350 children
41% of those in poverty are single with no children
Households outside of the Greater Adelaide area were twice as likely to be in poverty than those in Adelaide with:
7.1% of households below poverty line in Greater Adelaide
14.8% of households below the poverty line in the rest of the state

SACOSS has prepared this new data and research as part of our submission to a Parliamentary Inquiry into Poverty in SA.

Download a copy of the SACOSS Submission to the Legislative Council of South Australia Select Committee on Poverty in South Australia.

“The best and most direct way to reduce poverty in SA would be to raise the rate of Newstart and other base payments by at least $75 per week,” says SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley.

“And that is why the key recommendation we are making to the Legislative Council of South Australia Select Committee on Poverty in South Australia is that the Committee:
Notes the inadequacy of the current levels of Newstart and similar income support payments
Calls on the Federal Government to raise Newstart and similar income support payments
Recommends that the South Australian Government:
Add its voice to the public calls for the Federal Government to increase the rate of Newstart and similar payments, and
write to the Prime Minister in these terms.

“We also have specific recommendations in areas including housing, energy, water, telecommunications and justice.” (see more on this below).

Other quotes attributable to Ross Womersley:

“By undertaking this brand new research, we have been able to shine a very important light on this vital issue.”

“The reality is that the Newstart payment at its current rate is simply inadequate and does not meet the needs of South Australians receiving it.”

“The impact of an inadequate Newstart payment in regional, rural and remote South Australia is even more profound as the likelihood of poverty doubles in these communities.”

“Regional South Australia has always been a key driver of our state’s economic growth over many years and if we want to eradicate poverty then it must be a vital part of the solution.”

“SACOSS believes we can do much better in addressing the issue of poverty in our community.”

“We know that there is no simple solution but urge both state and federal governments to make addressing poverty a matter of national importance.”
SACOSS recommends that the Select Committee:

Newstart

Notes the inadequacy of the current levels of Newstart and similar income support payments
Calls on the Federal Government to raise Newstart and similar income support payments
Recommends that the South Australian Government:
Add its voice to the public calls for the Federal Government to increase the rate of Newstart and similar payments, and
write to the Prime Minister in these terms.

Housing
Notes the importance of public housing in the relief of poverty
Recommends a substantial investment in public housing to stop the current decline in public housing stock;
Recommends the development of a credible long-term plan to significantly expand the public housing estate with the aims of reducing the waiting list to negligible levels and re-establishing public housing as a market determinant contributing to housing affordability, and
Recommends that all public and social housing meets universal design standards, provides high levels of accessibility and energy efficiency.

Energy
Inquires of the government about the progress of transferring administration of the concession scheme to energy retailers and recommends the transfer happen as soon as is practical;
Recommends that the government move to adopt a percentage-based energy concession.

Water
Recommends amending Section 73 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 to reverse default responsibility for the water supply charge back from the tenant to the landlord.

Telecommunications
Inquires of the government as to any progress on the development and implementation of a state digital inclusion plan or the promised audit of public wi-fi availability; and
Recommends that such work be completed as soon as is practical with a view to increasing the availability of free public wi-fi and having an overall approach to ensuring that those in poverty can be connected in a digital world.

Justice
Notes the regressive nature of the current flat-rate fine system and the disproportionate hardship this causes to people in poverty
Recommends the government do a feasibility study of how income-based fines may be introduced in place of the current system.

 

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