The 15th Cost of Living Report

13/03/17 | Media Releases

Latest NTCOSS Cost of Living Report Renews Calls for Increase to Newstart/Youth Allowance and Broadening of Concession Eligibility

The 15th Cost of Living Report released today by the Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) provides a general CPI update and highlights areas of financial pressure many NT families continue to face.

The Report reveals that education costs (+3.4%), insurance (+2.9%) and health costs (+2.5%) have all risen over the past year. At the same time a decrease in the generic CPI for Darwin (-0.4%) occurred, in contrast to the increased national CPI (+1.5%) over the past year.

Jonathan Pilbrow, NTCOSS Policy Advisor said,
“While a low or negative rate of inflation over recent years is good news for the Northern Territory, unfortunately not all households are enjoying the benefits of this

“A low generic CPI for Darwin doesn’t necessarily lead to low prices for all of the goods and services that households require – it simply reflects that there have been price rises in some areas and decreases in others”.

It is encouraging to note that rent prices have fallen over the past year, but as rents have historically been very high in the Northern Territory, NTCOSS is still concerned about the strain this can place on low income families.

Mr Pilbrow continued,
“In addition, the challenge to address high food and fuel prices in remote areas still remains – yet this is not reflected in Darwin CPI figures

“High costs in critical expenditure areas continue to place great strain on lower income households across the NT. These items represent a greater proportion of weekly income for these households

“NTCOSS looks forward to working with the Northern Territory Government to determine actions to address these issues”.

The NTCOSS Report reveals that the cost of living has increased most markedly for people relying on Newstart (including sole parents), which highlights the inadequacy of the current indexation system for Newstart payments.

The overall inadequacy of Newstart and other allowance payments continues to be evident as they lag behind Pension payments. The current Newstart rate is nearly $170 below the pension rate, per week.

NTCOSS, along with the Councils of Social Service across Australia, continues to call on the Federal Government to raise the Newstart rate by $50 per week.

This rise would work towards easing cost of living pressures on many people, while ensuring that the NT continues to be a great place to live for all Territorians.

The NTCOSS report also shows that on top of the low base payments, recipients of Newstart and Youth Allowance who live in the NT face the additional disadvantage of not being eligible for concessions on costs such as electricity and motor vehicle registration.

This is in contrast to the majority of other states and territories, which make such concessions available to all health care card holders.

Since 2009 NTCOSS has called for an expansion of the eligibility criteria of NT concessions to ensure that those who are most disadvantaged are able to access them. NTCOSS reiterates this call.

Read the 15th NTCOSS Cost of Living Report.

For further information/media comment:
Jonathan Pilbrow – NTCOSS Policy Adviser  0403 611 815