Gap between Australia’s rich and poor widening, says report

According to a new report by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, the gap between Australia's richest and poorest grew by 13% over the past decade. This gap is expected to further widen by 10% over the next 10 years, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The research, conducted for Anglicare Australia, reveals that households in the bottom 20% of incomes saw their living standards (or disposable income) grow by approximately 15% over the past 10 years, whereas the top 20% enjoyed growth of 28%.

"We find that living standards have increased in Australia over the past 10 years, however, that growth was not shared evenly," author Ben Phillips said.

The study also states that the "likely driver" of difference between the standard of living today and in 2024-25 is changes in the Abbott government's first two budgets, which include cuts to family payments and pensions.

One of the major concerns is for families headed by people on payments like Newstart or Youth Allowance, as their living standard only grew by 4% over the past decade, compared to pension recipients and non-welfare recipients, who all gained about 20%.

According to the study, with an increase of almost 40%, couples with children were the family group that most increased their standard of living. The reason for this is mostly to do with strong wages growth and the increase in the number of dual income families.

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said: "As Leonard Cohen sings, 'Everybody knows the fight is fixed, the poor stay poor and the rich get rich'. That is true of the past 10 years of vigorous growth. What this report tells us, however, is that the poor will not just stay poor. They are on track to get poorer.

"Australia has reached a watershed. We can continue to walk away from many of the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged among us, as this research shows we are doing. Or we can commit now to ensuring our economy and our society gives everyone a fair go."

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