Inflation puts enormous strain on families: Food is sometimes no longer affordable

Inflation puts enormous strain on families: Food is sometimes no longer affordable
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This is shown by the reference budgets published by debt counseling services on Monday. Even without owning a car, couples with two children aged 7 and 14 have total monthly expenses of 4,433 euros, while single parents have 3,704 euros.

“Increases are alarming”

Compared to 2023, monthly costs have increased by several hundred euros. The reference budget for a household with one parent and two children is 300 euros more than last year. Heating prices have risen particularly sharply, by 53 percent. Food has become 11 percent more expensive and spending on social and cultural participation by 10 percent. Rental costs have also increased significantly, specifically by 8 percent.

“The increase in the cost of living is alarming,” explained Johanna Steurer, project manager for reference budgets at ASB Schuldnerberatungen GmbH, the umbrella organization for state-approved debt counseling in Austria. More and more people are no longer able to keep up financially. This is also shown by new figures on over-indebtedness, “where high living costs are becoming an increasingly important reason for over-indebtedness,” said Steurer. Food is no longer affordable for many.

  • The reference budgets of debt counselling services

Single parents and large families more frequently affected by poverty

The reference budgets of the debt counseling services are calculated annually and show how much money is needed for different types of households to be able to afford a decent life with a minimum of social and cultural participation. According to the ASB, they are the only survey in Austria that calculates how much is needed for a simple but good life on the expenditure side. For the first time, there are also reference budgets for couples with four children and households with one parent with three and four children. Households with only one parent and families with three or more children are particularly affected by poverty.

The reference budget does not take regional differences into account and assumes a rental apartment. Costs for a car are also not included in the reference budget. According to the ASB, the average monthly total cost for a car would be just under 900 euros.

The debt counseling services are demanding that the reference budgets be used as an official measure of poverty alongside the poverty risk threshold and also taken into account in the subsistence level. This is because the calculation of the poverty risk threshold is based on two-year-old income data (EU-SILC). According to the official definition, anyone who has to make do with less than 60 percent of the median income of the total population is considered to be at risk of poverty. For single parents with two children and monthly household costs of 3,704 euros according to the reference budget, the poverty risk threshold is 2,830 euros, which is 874 euros below the ASB reference budget.

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