Pensioners feeling pain of high rents

SINGLE age pensioners renting in the private market are likely to be paying nearly half their pension on rent, according to the Queensland Council of Social Service's (QCOSS) latest Cost of Living Report.

The Cost of Living Report - Special Edition: The cost of living and age pensioner households was launched yesterday to coincide with International Day of Older Persons with the theme "Leaving No One Behind: Promoting a Society for All".

QCOSS CEO Mark Henley said the report, which looked at the cost of living and age pensioner households, revealed the cost of renting privately was pushing those on low incomes over the edge.

Mr Henley said the report showed that single age pensioners renting in the private market in Brisbane spend as much as 48% of their income on housing costs, while couples renting in the same market spend more than 40%, putting both groups in housing stress.

"Increasing costs of living impact us all, but unfortunately it is individuals and families who can least afford it who suffer the most and are left struggling to make ends meet day in, day out," he said.

"While state and federal governments provide a range of allowances and concessions to help age pensioners meet everyday living costs, the fact is that the most disadvantaged are unable to afford even the most basic standard of living."

"It is vital that concessions and government contributions for age pensioners are targeted at those who need them most."

Mr Henley said age pensioners who didn't own their own home were struggling on two fronts. On the one hand, Commonwealth Rent Assistance is failing to meet the increasing cost of renting in the private market. On the other hand, there continues to be long waiting lists for suitable social housing as an alternative to private rental.

"While you could argue that age pensioners could rent cheaper properties outside Brisbane, the lack of affordable and accessible transport options in outer suburbs can negate these savings leading to greater social isolation. Over the long-term social isolation exacerbates health issues and increases costs to government" he said.

The report shows a single age pensioner renting in Brisbane receives $13 per week below what is required to meet a basic standard of living - a couple renting receives $59 below, a single age pensioner homeowner receives $5 above the required amount and a couple who own their own home receives $40 above the minimum amount.

Mr Henley said these figures were based on a very austere living standard, and provided little room for improvement or protection from unexpected costs or crises.



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