Rising rent and food costs drive surging charity demand

Charities are seeing a massive increase in demand for their services.

Charities are seeing a massive increase in demand for their services. Photo: Foodbank

As Anti-Poverty Week nears its end, Anglicare Australia has released a report showing demands for help with food, rent and bills are surging.

All of Anglicare Australia’s Emergency Relief services, which assist with everything from food to medical costs, have seen a rise in demand since the start of the year, states the report, released on Thursday.

Two-in-three services state that rising housing costs are the biggest factor as more Australians in paid work and with children turn to charities for help.

Charity isn’t a long-term fix for poverty, Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said.

She called on the government to address the driving forces behind rising demand for charity services.

Inflation driving poverty

Even people working full-time are struggling to make ends meet as wages continue to fall behind the rising cost of living.

“These numbers confirm what Australians already know. Living costs are spiralling. Essentials like food and transport are shooting up, and housing is more expensive than ever,” Ms Chambers said.

“Our survey shows that our network is helping people – but it also shows that it isn’t a long-term answer.

“People are coming to us because they can’t afford basics like rent, food, and bills. What they really need is a decent income.”

The Consumer Price Index rose by 6.1 per cent in the year to June, with the most significant price rises in new dwelling purchases by owner-occupiers, automotive fuel and furniture, Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals.

Grocery prices have also risen significantly, leading major supermarkets to launch price freeze and price match initiatives to soften the blow for financially-stretched customers.

Even with these programs, charities such as Foodbank Australia have seen demand spike 50 per cent above pre-COVID levels this year.

Calls for budget intervention

With the federal budget being delivered next week, Anglicare Australia is calling for more government investment in housing and rent assistance, and for income support payments to be raised above the poverty line.

JobSeeker rose by almost $2 per day in September, lifting the payment to $48 a day.

At the time, Australian Council of Social Service acting CEO Edwina MacDonald said the higher payment was still “grossly inadequate” for winter energy bills, high fuel prices, medicines, groceries and rent, as ACOSS called for the government to increase JobSeeker to $73 a day.

People on Youth Allowance or Austudy will not see their payments increase in line with indexation until January.

Higher mortgages pushed up by rising interest rates and soaring rents due to near-record low vacancy rates have severely affected housing affordability.

“Without action, the cost-of-living crisis could force huge numbers of people to turn to agencies like ours for basics – like food, rent, or medicine for themselves and their children,” Ms Chambers said.

“More and more people can’t keep up. Instead of putting a band-aid over poverty, we should be taking it on once and for all.”

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