Renting pensioner couples at greatest risk of poverty

Queensland couples who rely on the age pension and rent in the private market are at the greatest risk of living in poverty compared to other seniors.


The Queensland Council of Social Service’s (QCOSS’) third Cost of Living Report – Special Edition: The cost of living and age pensioner households was released today to coincide with International Day of Older Persons, which this year is highlighting the importance of an age inclusive agenda to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity for all.


QCOSS CEO Mark Henley said the report showed that the cost of renting privately was still the single biggest financial burden for age pensioners who do not own their own home, despite the fact that the cost of renting in Brisbane appears to be easing.


“Couples represented by our example household of two pensioners renting privately are being forced to make tough decisions every day as to whether to pay their electricity bill, buy medication or put decent food on the table,” Mr Henley said.


“While cost of living pressures have eased for our other three example households, it is important to remember that these figures are based on a very austere standard of living with little room to cope with unexpected costs or crises leaving Queensland’s age pensioners living on the edge.”


According to the Cost of Living Report, age pensioner couples renting privately in Queensland earn on average nearly $40 per week less than what is needed to afford a basic standard of living and are most likely to be experiencing housing stress, which means they spend more than a third of their income on housing costs.


“Despite some positive changes, such as the slow-down in the increasing cost of essential items such as public transport, electricity, water and sewerage and rents when compared to the last five years, the situation still remains bleak for many of Queensland’s pensioners relying on the age pension,” Mr Henley said.


“This report reaffirms our call for urgent targeted action to address the significant costs associated with providing suitable housing for Queenslanders who depend on the age pension for their survival.”


Mr Henley said with the number of Queenslanders aged 65 to 84 expected to more than double by 2050, it is highly likely the number of people on the age pension will also increase and place additional pressure on the state’s social services and other related support services.


“It is clear that state and federal government concessions play a critical role in supporting age pensioners to meet a basic standard of living,” he said.


“What is also clear is that by adjusting and better targeting these concessions we could help to ensure the financial and social equality and sustainability of older Queenslanders struggling to survive on the age pension.”


Read the report at


1 October 2015.