Living below the breadline: Pensioners crippled by two major costs of living

The cost of renting a home is placing more pensioners at risk of poverty than ever before, according to a report released today about the cost of living for older people and it is only likely to get worse.

The QCOSS Cost of Living Report is released today, and shows that the cost of housing in Queensland is placing extraordinary pressure on pension recipients with people are forced to undermine their quality of life to live in or near the capital city of Brisbane.   The report takes a look at four different “scenarios” for older Australian (or Queensland) pensioners, drawing out their budgets to make the best of their lives using public transport, and the data shows that a couple living near the city will be living below an adequate standard of living, a horrifying situation in a first world country.

It’s a problem many over 60s grapple with every day, and with 491,000 pensioners in Queensland, expected to grow to 1.3 million by 2050, and the report is calling for significant action in bringing appropriate accommodations to the market, suitable for pensioners.  No doubt other Australian states need to do the same.

The report’s story of four different age pensioners is underpinned by their budget breakdowns, and points out that age pensioners living as couples in Brisbane who rent in the private rental market are not able to meet the costs associated with a basic standard of living.   It’s frightful statistic for Australia’s third largest capital city, and the problem is likely easily extrapolated to other cities in Australia.  But who is listening?

QCOSS report

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In particular, the research shows:

  • The requirement to meet ongoing rental costs is the single biggest financial burden for age pensioners who do not own their own home.
  • Single and couple households renting in the private market are likely to be in housing stress, paying more than 30 per cent of their gross income on housing costs.
  •  Age pensioners living as couples in Brisbane who rent in the private rental market are not able to meet the costs associated with a basic standard of living.
  • Age pensioners living as couples in Brisbane will have to make compromises about their housing, transport or other living expenses, which may undermine their quality of life because there is a lack of affordable and appropriate accommodation available.

“It is likely that the number of people in this situation will increase, placing additional pressure on social services and other supports.”