The Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) has just released a new cost of living report examining the cost of living pressures across six Queensland regional centres – Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, Mount Isa, Rockhampton and Kingaroy.
The report uses the existing Cost of Living methodology to examine if three example low-income households – a single parent with two children, a single unemployed person and a couple with two children – can meet a basic standard of living. The report estimates the expenditure and income of the three households across the six regional centres to show differences in the cost of living pressures faced by these example low-income households.
According to the report, housing costs are the single biggest contributor to changes in the cost of living across the six regional centres. The highest cost for housing was in Mount Isa and the lowest cost was in Kingaroy. As the report shows, half of the example households would be in housing stress (paying more than 30 per cent of income on housing costs) in each of the locations if they did not receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA). While CRA helps most of the households to reduce housing costs, almost all of the households in housing stress still pay more than 30 per cent of their income on housing after receiving CRA.
The report shows that while the overall cost of living is lower in regional centres such as Kingaroy, Rockhampton and Cairns, there are higher rates of unemployment in these areas. This means that there are likely to be a greater proportion of the population who are solely dependent on government allowances and payments to meet everyday living costs. As the report shows, single parents and unemployed single people who rely solely on government allowances and payments do not have enough income to meet a basic standard of living, even in regional centres with lower living costs.
The report calls on federal and state government to support the construction of more affordable housing for low-income households and requests that the federal government increase government allowances and payments to enable those doing it tough to meet a basic standard of living.
Read the QCOSS Cost of Living Report