The federal budget revealed yesterday that young Aussies on Youth Allowance and Austudy would be getting a $20-a-week boost, but one trip to the grocery store highlights how little a difference it will make.
Today when I went to Woolworths, I bought eggs, butter, milk, a loaf of bread and a single avocado, which cost me $19.25.
I had initially wanted to buy a spread for the bread, some peanut butter or Vegemite, but I couldn’t afford it, so opted for a single avocado to stay within my $20 budget and still have something to spread on my toast.
These are the kind of choices young Aussies are being forced to make.
My grocery haul reveals exactly how far $20 gets you in Australia when inflation is at 7 per cent – just enough to make some toast and have a glass of milk.
The budget has left young Aussies feeling forgotten. Picture: news.com.auThis is how little $20 gets you. Picture: news.com.au
Currently the max amount you can get on Youth Allowance if you are over 18, childless and living out of home is $512.50 fortnightly
On Austudy if you are single with no children it is $562.80 a fortnight.
So, if you are a young Aussie on either of those payments, you are expected to live off around $40 a day.
The extra $20 weekly will amount to around $2.80 extra a day to live off. To put that in perspective a can of Coke usually costs around $3.
Gigi Foster, a professor at the school of economics at The University of New South Wales, explained that $20 simply isn’t enough to make a huge difference.
“$20 per week, obviously it will buy something, but in the grand scheme of the budget, it is scraps,” she said.
Prof Foster also thinks the $20 reveals the government isn’t interested in caring for struggling young people in Australia.
“Once again, what we see in this budget is the government paying off its mates as discreetly as possible while crowing about handouts to particular groups of people, hoping those soothing statements are interpreted by voters as indicating that the politicians actually care about the people at large, and can be trusted to look after us,” she said.
Similarly, Australian economist Saul Eslake doesn’t think an extra $20 will realistically helpful for young people.
“Youth Allowance isn’t liveable, and $20 extra isn’t going to very far. It is a marginal difference,” he explained.
And it turns out there is a “cynical” reason young Australians seem to be continually overlooked when it comes to federal budgets.
“At the risk of sounding a bit cynical, there are always votes in being nice to pensioners and, despite people wringing their hands with worry about youth, handing cash to young people isn’t very popular,” Eslake said.
He also pointed out that the budget would have been created to minimise the impact of inflation, but the argument remains about who should have lost out.
So who are the real budget winners?
Well, people that are bringing home a six-figure salary are – unsurprisingly – still thriving.
Labor has revealed it won’t be winding back the Morrison government-era Stage 3 tax cuts.
This essentially means the richer you are, the more you are going to save. If you earn $100,000 you will get a $1375 tax cut next year and those on $130,000 will get a $2750 tax cut.
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Those on $160,000 can expect a $4675 tax cut.
But the major winners are those earning over $200,000, who can expect to score a $9000 tax cut next year.