6523.0 - Household Income and Wealth, Australia, 2013-14 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/03/2016   
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The government provides two types of assistance to individuals and families in Australia. Firstly, it provides cash support in government pensions and allowances, such as the age pension and family tax benefit. Secondly, it provides goods and services free or at subsidised prices (such as health and education services). Such goods and services are collectively called social transfers in kind (STIK). Through means testing, much of this government assistance is targeted to those most in need of financial support.

In 2013-14, older low income households were more reliant on government pensions and allowances than younger households. Three-quarters (74%) of people in older low income households received at least 90% of their cash income from government payments (mainly age pensions), compared with 36% of younger low income households (Graph 1).

Almost one-third (28%) of people in younger low income households received less than 20% of their gross household income from government payments, compared with 5% of people in older low income households.

Graph Image for Graph 1 PEOPLE IN LOW INCOME HOUSEHOLDS, Contribution of government pensions and allowances to household income, 2013-14

Source(s): ABS Survey of Income and Housing

The amount of government support provided to low income households varies between households, with characteristics such as life cycle stage, household size, and income, influencing the amount of government support provided.

Of people in low income households, those in older households received the highest average weekly amounts of total equivalised social assistance benefits ($744), comprising $377 in cash benefits and $367 from social transfers in kind. The latter were mainly from government provision of health ($273) and community welfare services ($76).

Low income one parent families with dependent children received the second highest levels of government support (averaging $699 per week). Health ($216) and education ($89) services were the highest average weekly social transfers in kind received by these households (Graph 2).

Graph: shows that among low income households, older couples and lone persons received the highest amount of government assistance, in cash and in kind.

In 2013-14, government assistance increased the average equivalised household income of older low income households from $233 to $982 per week. Low income one parent families with dependent children had the lowest average equivalised income from non-government sources, but government support, in cash and in-kind, increased their equivalised household income to an average of $842 per week (Graph 3).

Graph: shows that couples and lone persons, 65 years and over, received the highest average income among low income households, after including imputed rent, and social transfers in kind.

The impact of including social transfers in kind in household income can also be shown by comparing the composition of low income households determined using broader income measures. In 2013-14, when social transfers in kind are included in the income measure, the proportion of the low income population living in households 65 years and over, fell to 15%, while younger households comprised 85% of the low income population (Table 1).

Table 1. PEOPLE IN LOW INCOME HOUSEHOLDS, Before and after including imputed rent and STIK, 2013-14

Age of household reference person
Equivalised disposable
household income
Equivalised disposable
household income
(incl. net imputed rent)
Equivalised disposable
household income
(incl. net imputed rent and STIK)

Under 65 years
65 years and over
Total low income households

Source: ABS Survey of Income and Housing