Ipswich battlers broke thanks to cost of living
SPIRALLING rents and booming utility bills are pushing almost half of Ipswich households to the brink.
A special APN investigation found 47% - or 82,039 - of homes in the Ipswich council area were unable to raise $2000 cash in a week to cover a crisis.
About 31,801 of the region's 172,738 residents have had cash flow problems in the past 12 months.
University of Adelaide figures reveal 39,739 people relied on government incomes to survive over the past two years.
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council chief Dr John Falzon said some residents were taking drastic measures to cut costs.
"We've recently seen huge increases in the costs of gas so many of the homes our members visit have people huddled together freezing in the dead winter, unable to afford heating, and we find people going to bed early so as to conserve electricity.
"People are even reducing the number of times they'll use the stove top because they're worried about the cost."
Low income support specialist Maree O'Halloran said people in areas like Ipswich went without fresh food and medications just to pay the rent.
"What we see is a lot of debt," the National Welfare Rights Network president said.
"It certainly needs all levels of government to be looking at their policies."
The figures come on the back of national consumer advocate Choice's latest Pulse Report, which says nine out of 10 householders have higher bills compared to last year.
Choice chief Alan Kirkland said that pressure was now building as government actions had failed to deliver.
"So far, the impact of the carbon tax repeal has failed to meet the expectations of many Australian households, despite evidence that savings are being passed on, particularly on electricity and gas bills."
Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller said that the cost of living increases were biting hard.
"I know people in my electorate who are telling me that they are getting physically ill opening their letter box, because these days the only mail they get is bills," she said.
"Some schools in our area have now stopped inter-school sports competitions because the parents can't afford the cost of the bus fares to take their children to the schools for the competitions.
"People used to go shopping with the bigger-sized shopping trolleys. Now they shop with the smaller-sized trolleys or baskets, because that is all they can afford."