Welfare recipients in Wagga say increases to the dole and age pension will be 'insignificant'.
It comes after an $8.70 age pension rise singles and $13.20 for couples was announced this month, with the fortnightly changes set to come into effect on September 20.
Scepticism followed the news, with pensioners like Wagga man Rick Priest labelling the hike farce.
Mr Priest said he and his wife were fortunate enough to own their home and other assets, but he conceded they were “only just” able to make ends meet.
With electricity and gas prices having skyrocketing this winter, he anticipated that would soon change.
“We don’t want to make a living off [the pension],” Mr Priest said. “We just want to be able to toot along.”
But he said many residents across the region were less fortunate, and struggled to live day to day.
He said a number of individuals and families had sacrificed their comfort to avoid heating costs.
“My wife works for Telecross and a lot of the people she calls everyday say they haven’t turned their heaters on at all this winter,” Mr Priest said.
“They just jump into bed and stay there.”
Mr Priest said something had to change.
The region’s Saint Vincent de Paul president Joanne Crowley on Wednesday echoed this sentiment. The Wagga woman said the majority of residents seeking support – 50 to 60 percent – were reliant on the Newstart Allowance, which was set to go up a “whopping” $4.40.
Ms Crowley said the rough Newstart figure of $600 a fortnight would be mostly spent on rent and utility expenses.
“Once you pay for food, there’s nothing left,” Ms Crowley said. “Some can’t even afford to pay for the bus to get down to Vinnies for food. We often pay for them to get home.”
She said $4 would disappear like coins in a hole-ridden pocket.
Ms Crowley said residents on aged pensions were living only marginally higher than the poverty line – $426.30 per week for a single adult, according to the Australian Council of Social Service – while those on the dole were left struggling below.
“The government need to take a big long look at the big wide world,” Ms Crowley said. “They’ll soon realise how far $4 or $8 a fortnight can go.”