Suburb Stress

Reporter: Graeme Butler

Perth's a tale of two cities, on one hand those enjoying the fruits of our robust economy, on the other those who are struggling to cope with price rises and interest rate hikes.

"For those people who are on good salaries, stable accommodation, it is very difficult to actually stand in somebody else's shoes" Sue Ash from the WA council of social service says people on low fixed incomes like pensions and social security are really struggling. "For many of those people life is just getting tough and tough it's getting very difficult because they have increased utility prices and now we're getting increased food prices"

A lot's been made about supermarkets dropping the price of milk to $1 a litre, but what about everything else. W.A's annual CPI increase was 2.6% - here's where the rises were

Bread up 1.4%

Lamb/Mutton up 5.8%

Pork up 5.7%

Poultry up 4.4%

Vegies up 4.1%

and Fast Food up 1.8%

"I'm looking at prices all the time", Shirley Fitzhum is on a carers pension, caring for her ten year old grandson James, her income is just $350 a week, it doesn't go far. "Once the money is gone it's gone I currently have in my wallet $12.50 to last me till Friday"

Shirley how much disposable income do you have at the end of the week? well Graeme this is my budget that I've worked out for myself starting off with $700 a fortnight. By the time I've paid the rent, running costs, car, school, the general costs I get about $142 a week which is for food any household products. That's my disposable income as such if you can call that disposable"

Shirley lives in the city of Swan, one of the areas doing it tough. We crunched the numbers on our suburbs to show where the stress is based on income demographics five areas are doing it harder than most.

"They will be suburbs that have a majority of people who are on single incomes and with new homes so new mortgages the cost of establishing a new home and single income"

Take the city of Gosnells

* Average income is $49,000

Unemployment at 4.8%

*there's also a high number of Pensioners and parents on single income support

The City of Rockingham

* Average income is $53,000

* Unemployment - 5.5% and again a high number of people on support benefits


City of Wanneroo - South

*Average income - 46,000

high Unemployment at 6.5 % but lower numbers of pensioners


City of Mandurah

* Average income is - $55,000

* Unemployment - 5.2% the city also has a large number of pensioners

City of Swan where Shirley lives has an Average income of $51,000

* Unemployment is low at 3% but there's a high number of pensioners like Shirley with limited incomes

Shirley says "at times you almost feel as if why don't they just take the pension and just hand it straight over to the landlord why give it to me I'm just the person it goes through"

It's not just suburbs with low incomes that are feeling the pressure. Newer suburbs too are under strain, salaries might be higher but so are mortgages and every interest rate hike is cutting deeply into peoples disposable income.

Sue says "for many people who are living for instance on $800 a week which is about average wage if your housing costs are in the vicinity of $500 a week which many people are for a 350,000 loan it doesn't take much to understand that one of the other parts of that equation is going to actually have to be supported"

For further details

1300 CARERS (1300 227 377)

Counselling Line: 1800 007 332