Fam­i­lies strug­gling with debt

Joondalup Times - - NEWS - David Johns

A NEW class of work­ing poor is be­gin­ning to emerge in WA, with newly re­leased debt fig­ures show­ing thou­sands of fam­i­lies are strug­gling to make ends meet.

The data, re­leased by Unit­ing Care West (UCW) ahead of Anti-Poverty Week this week (Oc­to­ber 14 to 20), shows that in the six months to June 2018, more than 3200 peo­ple across Perth turned to a fi­nan­cial coun­selling ser­vice to try to make ends meet.

Mer­riwa has emerged as the area with the high­est to­tal amount of debt, fol­lowed by Rock­ing­ham, Mid­land, Perth and Belmont.

Joon­dalup, Suc­cess, Gir­rawheen and Fre­man­tle also fea­tured highly on the list of ar­eas with the most debt owed by clients.

UCW’s fi­nan­cial coun­selling net­work is a part­ner­ship of com­mu­nity ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tions and lo­cal gov­ern­ments that stretches across the met­ro­pol­i­tan area.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Amanda Hunt said re­gard­less of the post­codes in which peo­ple lived, fi­nan­cial stress and vul­ner­a­bil­ity could come in an in­stant due to ill­ness, re­la­tion­ship break­downs or job losses.

Many of the 3219 peo­ple who ap­proached the fi­nan­cial coun­selling ser­vices in the six months to June fell into the cat­e­gory of ‘work­ing poor’.

Ms Hunt said these peo­ple were “un­der-em­ployed, or their wages or gov­ern­ment sup­port pay­ments aren’t keep­ing pace with the ris­ing cost of liv­ing”.

“Changes to Fed­eral wel­fare pol­icy mov­ing sin­gle­par­ent house­holds on to New­start Al­lowance – which is com­pletely in­ad­e­quate – have dra­mat­i­cally in­creased the num­ber of chil­dren grow­ing up in en­trenched poverty.”

The fig­ures also showed that clients who used fi­nan­cial coun­selling ser­vices in this time owed a to­tal amount of $318,434,366.

“The rise of the ‘work­ing poor’ con­tin­ues to be a stark re­minder of just how eas­ily any one of us can find our­selves at risk of poverty and why it’s an is­sue we should all take a stand on,” Ms Hunt said.

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