Low-income earners at risk of poverty over Christmas
LOW-income Rockhampton and Kingaroy residents could slip under the poverty line in the lead-up to Christmas.
A report from the Queensland Council of Social Service, released on Friday, found despite regional Queensland often being cheaper to live in than metropolitan centres, low-income residents were still struggling with the cost of living.
The report looked at the cost of living in six Queensland regions - Rockhampton, Kingaroy, Brisbane, Mt Isa, Cairns and the Gold Coast.
Single-parent households on Newstart and the unemployed were found to struggle to meet basic standards of living criteria.
QCOSS found higher unemployment in regional Queensland offset the lower cost of living in towns like Rockhampton or Kingaroy.
QCOSS chief Mark Henley said low-income earners were struggling with basic needs like transport and health.
"If they can't afford the basics they're always going to struggle to get employed or start a business," he said.
"The issues with places such as Kingaroy and Rockhampton is high levels of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is causing real problems in the community.
"It is tougher in the regional areas in many respects because the opportunities aren't there in the same way as in metropolitan centres."
Mr Henley called on the Federal Government to raise Newstart allowances and reinstate the Parenting Payment for single mothers, and the Queensland Government to reset concession frameworks.
A spokeswoman for Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews said the government was committed to providing a safety net.
"A range of support is provided to people with limited means, including income support through pensions, allowances, family payments, low-cost housing, and medical and dental support," she said.
She said the government had begun a review of welfare to ensure it is "sustainable, effective and coherent, and encourages people to work".
- APN NEWSDESK