Rising costs affecting vulnerable households

Rising costs affecting vulnerable households

Pensioners and other recipients of government benefits have been the most affected by rising prices for goods and services, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).  

The ABS Selected Living Cost Indexes (LCI) show that in December 2017, Australian households for employees, pensioners, self-funded retirees and recipients of other government transfers, all saw their overall cost of living increase, both over the previous quarter and the past 12 months.

While the ABS Consumer Price Index (CPI) looks at the average costs of a variety of goods and services, the LCI looks at how much household incomes would need to grow to allow Australians to continue to buy these goods and services in the same quantities. This includes the costs of mortgage interest and consumer credit charges, as well as housing and insurance costs for different households.

All household types experienced increases in the cost of:

  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Housing
  • Transport
  • Recreation and culture
  • Education
  • Insurance and financial services

Offsetting these increases were falls in the following categories:

  • Clothing and footwear
  • Furnishings, household equipment and services
  • Health
  • Communication
Weighted average of eight capital cities Pensioner and beneficiary LCI Employee LCI Age pensioner LCI Other government transfer recipient LCI Self-funded retiree LCI Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Food and non-alcoholic beverages 1.3% 1.0% 1.4% 1.2% 1.2% 1.0%
Alcohol and tobacco 4.8% 3.0% 3.4% 5.6% 1.9% 3.2%
Clothing and footwear -0.3% -0.2% -0.4% -0.4% -0.5% -0.3%
Housing 0.2% 0.3% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3%
Furnishings, household equipment and services -1.0% -0.8% -1.2% -0.8% -1.2% -0.8%
Health -2.0% -0.3% -1.7% -2.5% -0.7% -0.5%
Transport 3.5% 2.7% 3.3% 3.5% 2.3% 2.4%
Communication -1.3% -1.3% -1.2% -1.4% -1.3% -1.3%
Recreation and culture 0.8% 0.7% 1.0% 0.4% 0.8% 0.6%
Education 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
Insurance and financial services 1.1% 0.8% 1.4% 0.8% 1.5% 0.2%
All groups 0.8% 0.7% 0.6% 1.0% 0.6% 0.6%

Source: ABS

The higher cost of tobacco over the quarter was due to the flow-on effects of the federal excise tax increase effective 1 September 2017, while the increase to transport costs were driven largely by rising fuel prices. The rise in food and non-alcoholic beverage costs was driven by fruit, due to rises in the price of berries, particularly strawberries and grapes.

The reduced cost of health over the quarter was attributed to pharmaceutical products, due to the cyclical increase in the proportion of consumers exceeding the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) safety net. Ongoing competition and continued discounting activity in the retail industry contributed to lowering the cost of household textiles, softening the furnishings, household equipment and services figure.

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this news?



Money Health Newsletter

Subscribe for news, tips and expert opinions to help you make smarter financial decisions

By signing up, you agree to the ratecity.com.au Privacy & Cookies Policy and Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy


Learn more about bank accounts

Can I find my bank account number online?

Yes, you can find your bank account number by logging into your online banking and clicking on the relevant account.

Do I need to open a business bank account?

Just because you’re in business doesn’t necessarily mean you need a business bank account. You could be a sole trader not registered for GST, and use your personal bank account for business.

If you do want a business account, there are plenty of benefits attached to business transaction and savings accounts, as well as business term deposits.

There are business bank accounts designed for businesses with a high volume of transactions, and those for start-ups with a small amount of trade. You could also include an EFTPOS service with your account.

Some business bank accounts charge for the number of transactions per month, while others offer a pay-as-you-go fee structure, where you only pay fees for transactions you make.

It’s up to you whether your priority is mainly transactions, or earning the maximum amount of interest on your principal. There’s a business banking solution for you if you need one.

Can a debt collector garnish my bank account?

A debt collector can garnish your bank account, but only with a court order. This drastic action is usually taken only if you’ve ignored several notices asking you to pay the debt.

If this happens, there is nothing you can do to stop it other than immediately pay back your what you owe in full or make arrangements to pay it off in installments.

Once a garnishee order is issued, your bank will put a freeze on your account as it processes the order. This usually takes two to three days and you won’t be able to access any of your money during this time.

If you have Centrelink payments, they may be protected, depending on what the court order says.

Are bank accounts frozen when someone dies?

Yes, Australian bank accounts are frozen when someone dies. If you want to close the account of somebody who has died, you might have to provide proof of death and a copy of the will. You might also have to prove your relationship to the deceased person.

If you have a joint bank account with somebody who has died, you will generally be entitled to all the money in the account. Again, you might have to provide proof of death if you want to change the bank account from a joint account to a one-person account.

Can I start a bank account online?

Yes, most lenders that operate in Australia will let you set up a bank account online. The process is usually simple and takes five to 10 minutes. You will probably need to provide a passport or birth certificate, as well as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or another form of secondary identification. Requirements differ from lender to lender, so some institutions might ask for more or different forms of ID.

Can you deposit money into somebody else's bank account?

One of the easiest banking tasks in the world is depositing money. You can even deposit money into someone else’s bank account if you wish.

The basic information you need to deposit money into a third-party bank account is:

  • Payee’s name
  • Bank, building society or credit union (though this isn’t necessary)
  • BSB (or bank code, which is the branch identifier)
  • Account number

Including the name of the financial institution isn’t necessary – particularly with online banking – because the BSB will identify this for you.

A handy tip is to record yourself (or add a personal message) in the transaction description or reference. This will show up on the recipients account, letting them know who’s paid them the money.

How can I find bank accounts in my name?

To find ‘live’ bank accounts in your name, you’ll have to ask individual lenders, which involves contacting them one by one and proving your identity each time. To find ‘unclaimed’ bank accounts (those that have been inactive for at least seven years), you can use this website.

Can you open a bank account at 16?

Yes, you can open a bank account at 16, or even younger. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

How do you find a bank account number by name?

For privacy reasons, Australian banks won’t hand out account numbers or other details about their customers. However, if you provide a bank with a BSB and account number, they should be able to confirm if those numbers belong to one of their customers.

Can I close my bank account over the phone?

In most cases, you can close a personal or business bank account over the phone. In fact, this is the best way to ensure you’ve closed an account properly.

By speaking to a banking representative, you can capture and close out any pending transactions, or interest owing/payable on the account being closed.

In the instance where the account is a joint account, or you have multiple bank accounts you want to close, your bank may send you a form that you need to fill out and return.

Either way, you would be advised over the phone of the steps you need to take. Calling your bank ahead of closing an account is often a smart course of action.

Can I open a bank account in another country?

Despite having a bad rap for facilitating tax evasion, it is possible and legal to open a bank account in another country, also known as an ‘offshore account’.

Some people choose to open a bank account in another country to invest overseas, for higher interest-earning potential or to access foreign banking services.

The process for opening an offshore bank account differs depending on the financial institution and country in which you’re opening the account.

Typically, you will need to provide identification such as a passport, a local bank statement and a signed declaration proving the source of the money being used to open your account. Usually, deposits into offshore accounts can be made by international money transfer.

Can Centrelink access your bank account?

Yes, Centrelink can access your bank account, but only if you give them a reason to. Centrelink uses data-matching software with other federal government agencies to help it crack down on welfare cheats.

This is why it’s important to give true and matching information to all government agencies.

For example, if you report to Centrelink your annual income is $25,000, but at tax time you report your income as $50,000 with the ATO, it’s likely you’ll be ‘red flagged’.

At this point, Centrelink can legally request that your bank hand over your personal bank account details, to review your finances.

In most cases, Centrelink does not have the authority to take money out of your account. You will usually be given written notice to repay the debt.

However, Centrelink can also reduce your benefits until you’ve paid back what you owe. In extreme cases, Centrelink can garnish your wages and assets (including money in your bank account) until your debt is repaid.

How do you delete your bank account from PayPal?

Deleting your bank account from PayPal is a simple three-step process:

  • Go to your Wallet
  • Choose the account you’d like to delete
  • Click ‘Remove bank account’

How can I check my bank account balance online?

Checking your bank account balance online is a simple process. Once you’ve logged in to your online banking, clock on the relevant account and the balance should be visible.