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On the eve of the Federal Budget, the COSS network urged the Commonwealth Government to address gaping holes in Australia's social safety net, releasing new research showing welfare recipients continue to fall behind.

The report, Payment adequacy: a view from those relying on social security payments, is based on a survey of more than 600 people receiving income support payments.

It highlights the plight of people living on the lowest income support payments, Newstart and Youth Allowance, with 83% saying they don't have enough to live on, including one in five reporting they are unable to afford basic essentials like housing, food and electricity.

The findings confirm that people on working age payments, including Newstart/Youth Allowance, Parenting payments and Disability Support Pension, are struggling the most.

Thirty two percent of people receiving the DSP reported going without meals in the past 12 months and more than half could not afford Christmas presents.

Housing stress is a significant issue with one in five people on the DSP paying more than 50% of their income on housing, and 24% of single parents spending half their income on housing costs.

Governments have a duty to provide a safety net for those who need it. Holes have been allowed to develop in this safety net, with vulnerable groups falling through the cracks.

ACOSS welcomed the important recognition by the Government that CPI indexation is inadequate for pensions. The time has come to apply consistent indexation to wages to other vital income support payments, including allowances and family payments. "

Download the full report here.