Monday, August 14, 2006

Anatomy of a work disincentive. The "Good Life" on $87 a week

Check the spreadsheet (pdf) or click on the image to see where the money goes

Here is one reason why DH was glad her contract ended. She worked 4 days (28 hours) per week. (As the parent of a disabled teenager, part-time work was all she could handle.) After D'oH rent, transport, privatised health costs, and fixed costs like gas and electricity, she had only $87 a week left.

Fixed costs btw, do not cover FOOD or any of the items below.

$87 a week had to cover food, drygoods, clothes, cosmetics, repairs, emergencies, household goods, medical and dental gap fees, taxis, holidays, daughter's university fees, textbooks, stationery and consumables, not to mention female unmentionables, and basic social capital goods, eg newspapers, club and organisation membership fees, outings, accidental losses, presents, charity donations, lattes…

So how does her family survive?

Her daughter also gets a disability pension, a princely sum of $160 per week. That's it, $240 per week for everything. She borrows from her mother's age pension at the beginning of the week, and her mother borrows it back at the end.

Why doesn't she work full-time or get a higher paying job?

Rent and tax take the bulk of it. Once she earns a certain amount, the percentage that goes on rent also increases. And once she earns over that, she begins to pay HECS, and Austudy, and must pay rent on the gross amount including money she nevers sees. And if she was one of the unfortunates who got their housing after 2005 and was on a fixed tenancy, she would be facing eviction for earning "too much".


$75 a week girl said...

You know even when you work full time, you still have limited resources. I have a job, mortgage, HECS and live on $75 a week for food and entertainment. And I'm in my 40's. I can't afford to fix my house up so I can sell it, I live in fear of loosing my roof to spiralling interest rates and I'll never get the opportunity to have a "secure place to live" like you have. So it's not just people in public housing or on benefits suffering, why blame the Department of Housing/Centrelink?

If you can work why don't you work? Public Housing surely isn't an entitlement just because you got in after 2005. It's for people who are in crisis at particular points in their lives. If you're well enough to get uni degrees, are you not well enough to seek work and so improve your families financial circumstances?

Not judging here I've not walked in your shoes, but gosh, if you are as desperate as you say you are, then surely there are other options aviable for you in the work force. Everything in life is a choice except dying and taking up space on this planet. There are plenty of jobs for social workers out there especially in government departments. Why not change the beast from the inside?

If you want to put something back into the community work as a social worker. It's what I do.

DH said...

Sorry you're doing it tough too. Resentment of other people on low incomes gets us all nowhere. Other than re-electing governments that practise wedge politics (ie "divide and rule" tactics. Affordable housing for all, renters and owners should be a national priority. Unfortunately the Howard government is failing to make any creditable attempt on this front. If you read DH's profile you will find she is a highly productive citizen. But she defends the rights of that very small minority who cant be productive for whatever reason.

$75 a week girl said...

But you get a subsidy from Housing don't you? A friend of mine told me you next pay no more than 30% of your income for rent. I'm paying 60% of my income. In my mind 30% seems quite preferable and affordable.

DH said...

Sounds like you need a blog more than DH does! What would make you happy? To see DH pay 60% too? Why not get politically active and join a movement or start a blog for Affordable Housing for everyone, instead of wasting energy on resentment.

$75 a week girl said...

Resentment - lol no not at all. And I do have a blog thank you.

I just think it's a waste of time focusing your intelligent energy on such negativity and criticism without remedy.
But don't worry, I won't be reading your dairy any further. You can have your platform.