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Who is being left behind?

Sep 15, 2015, 01:00 AM by Anglicare Australia

At its national conference in Canberra on Tuesday, Anglicare Australia will launch research that points to growing inequality across the country and a fall in living standards for those on the lowest incomes.

“On Election night in 2013 new Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised the Australian people ‘We will not leave anyone behind’. But the combination of economic change and the public policies of Australian governments over the past 10 years appear to be leaving certain groups of people further and further behind nonetheless” Anglicare Australia’s Executive Director, Kasy Chambers said today.

“Anglicare Australia commissioned NATSEM, the University of Canberra’s National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, to look at what is happening now with living standards across Australia.”

Living Standard Trends in Australia, the NATSEM report, examines the relative increases in living standards for different household types across Australia over the past 10 years, and provides projections for the next 10.

Since 2004, households with the top 20% income enjoyed 28.4% growth in living standards. For the bottom 20% it was only 15.1%. Projections for the next 10 years are for 5.9% further growth for the top group, with living standards staying flat – at best – for those on middle and lower middle incomes, and a fall in living standards for the lowest group of 4.5%.

Households headed by persons receiving allowances such as the inadequate Newstart or the Youth Allowance, can expect a significant fall of 10.4% on average.

“As Leonard Cohen sings, ‘everybody knows the fight is fixed, the poor stay poor and the rich get rich.’ That is true of the past 10 years of vigorous growth. What this report tells us, however, is that the poor will not just stay poor. They are on track to get poorer,” Ms Chambers said.

“Australia has reached a watershed. We can continue to walk away from many of the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged among us, as this research shows we are doing. Or we can commit now to ensuring our economy and our society gives everyone a fair go.”

Living Standard Trends in Australia will be launched by NATSEM Principal Researcher Ben Phillips, the report’s author, and Anglicare Australia’s Executive Director, Kasy Chambers at 10:30 am on Tuesday 15 September at Anglicare Australia’s national conference, QT Canberra, 1 London Circuit, Canberra City.


Living Standard Trends in Australia - sample findings

Living Standard Trends in Australia is a report prepared for Anglicare Australia by NATSEM, the University of Canberra’s National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling. It provides an overview of the recent trends and potential future trends for living standards in Australia for different socio-economic groups. It uses NATSEM’s STINMOD model of the Australian Tax and Transfer system to estimate the disposable incomes for each group in 2004-05, 2014-15 and project future standard of living using assumed growth rates for wages, other incomes and the expected trajectory for the tax and welfare system.

1. Living Standard Growth by Income Quintile

Households with highest incomes have enjoyed significantly greater growth in living standards.

The living standards for those in the lowest two quintiles in the next 10 years, are projected to fall.

Living standard growth by income quintile

2. Equivalised Disposable Income by family type $2004 pw

There is large gap in living standard between different family types.

Households with children have benefited form the greatest rise in living standards, but the projection for single parent families is for minimal growth. Households already on low.

Equivalised disposable income by family type-graph

3. Equivalised Disposable Income by benefit type in $2004 pw

The difference in income between those living on benefits such as the Newstart and average income earners is stark, the fall in living standards beneficiaries face is significant.

Living standard growth by income quintile-graph