01.Electricity, fuel and health top the list of cost pressures
New research by CHOICE reveals that the bulk of Australian consumers are seriously concerned about increased cost of living pressures, with electricity, fuel, food and health topping the list.
In a national survey of 1000 Australians across the demographic spectrum, 48% said their bills had increased a lot over the past 12 months, while 41% said their bills were a little higher. Only 8% didn’t notice an increase.
Strikingly, 31% reported they are finding it difficult to get by on their current income, and 62% said they are cutting back on non-essentials including entertainment, holidays and big-ticket purchases.
Forty-four per cent indicated they were making ends meet, while only 18% said they were living comfortably. A mere 5% said they were living “very comfortably”.
Over half the survey respondents (52%) said they were very worried about electricity prices, and an even 50% cited fuel prices as a worry.
Rising pharmaceutical and GP costs are also causing financial distress, with 68% and 65% of survey respondents saying they had concerns.
"Almost one in three respondents told us they find it difficult to get by on their current income, with one in five saying they have scraped through to payday by living off credit or borrowing from friends or family," says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.
"This reveals some striking concerns with cost-of-living, which is perhaps not surprising at a time when inflation is outstripping sluggish wages growth, retail sales are fragile and the political debate remains focused on household expenses," Mr Kirkland says.
The widespread worry comes against a backdrop of decreasing government support – so it’s probably no coincidence that government spending cuts was the number one worry, with 37% saying they were "very worried" about diminishing commitments from government.
Getting by has meant dipping into savings to make it through to the next payday for 35% of Australians; 22% said they had deliberately missed or delayed paying a bill due to a shortage of funds.
An eye-opening 46% reported they’ve had to cut back on essentials in the last year.
Renters in particular are in a tight spot. Nearly half (45%) are finding it difficult to get by as opposed to 25% of mortgage holders. And city dwellers are faring better than regional Australians.
Australians living comfortably as well as those finding it hard to get by said electricity prices are their biggest concern. Those managing to make ends meet are most worried about fuel costs.
Who's worried about what?