Research Reports and Evaluations - Page 13

Even with rent assistance and other supplementary payments added to the household income, many social security payments fall below the poverty line. As a result, many people are forced deeper into financial hardship. Responses from the 2014 survey showed of those in receipt of a Centrelink payment as their main source of income 25% were on DSP, 20.3% on NSA, 19.9% on SRSS, 12.5% on PPS and 5.6% on Carer Allowance12. Responses from participants regarding their estimated weekly income were substantially lower than those reported by residents of the City of Whittlesea more broadly. According to 2011 Census data, the average weekly income for residents of the City of Whittlesea was $1,275. This compares to the ER survey where 44.4% of respondents indicated their average household income was below $400, with 76.6% having an income of $600 or less per week available for their household. This highlights a significant number of residents in the municipality who are finding it increasingly difficult to meet their daily living expenses. The most commonly identified costs causing financial hardship, identified by more than half of all respondents, were food expenses (68%), electricity (63.2%), housing costs and gas (54.2%). The City of Whittlesea’s 2014 Household Survey found that an unprecedented number of people identified cost as a barrier to accessing fresh produce (29.2% for fruit and 26.8% for vegetables) highlighting food security as an issue for many in the community13. Two-thirds of respondents indicated that in the previous 12 months they were aware a member of their household had sought other emergency relief or welfare assistance. The most common reason for seeking assistance was due to difficulties paying housing costs (56.6%), which had more than doubled compared to