Bills, food and savings: How more than six million Australians chose to spend their COVID-19 stimulus payments
- A stimulus payment was sent out to 32 per cent of struggling Australians in May
- About 60 per cent of recipients were more likely to spent the funds than save it
- It was spent on household bills, clothes shopping, shoes, food and alcohol
Millions of Australians who received special COVID-19 stimulus payments chose to use the money to pay bills and buying groceries – or add to their savings.
That’s the finding of an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey into how the first round of economic relief payments, including JobKeeper, JobSeeker and the one-off $750 package in March, were used.
The survey reported 32 per cent of respondents received some form on non-business related stimulus payment from the government.
The data was collected between May 10 and 23, as most of Australian began to emerge from the first round of lockdown restrictions.
There are about 3.5 million Australians on the $1,500 a week JobKeeper and 1.6 million on the $1,100 JobSeeker payments, according to the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union.
A survey has revealed that around 60 per cent of people were more likely to spend their stimulus payments on household bills and clothes shopping than to save it
The survey did find that about 60 per cent of those who received the money chose to spend it.
Besides paying bills or buying groceries and alcohol, the top purchases included shoes, clothes, homewares, and on recreational activities.
The survey showed 30 per cent of unemployed recipients saved the money compared to 26 per cent for those who still had a job.
ABS head of household surveys, Michelle Marquardt, said 28 per cent of people used the government funds to pay bills.
A survey found 32 per cent of Australians received the payments with most choosing to spend the cash for various wants and needs
Many recipients said they spent the cash on clothes and shoe shopping over saving it
Older people were more likely to save, with 37 per cent putting the money in the bank, while 47 per cent of people under the age of 65 used the handout to pay their mortgage, bills and debts.
Ms Marquardt said Tasmania had the largest amount of recipients, with 47 per cent qualifying for the payment, followed by South Australia at 39 per cent.
‘Women were more likely to have received a stimulus payment than men (36 per cent compared to 27 per cent) and Australians without a non-school qualification were more likely to have received a stimulus payment (41 per cent) than those with a qualification (27 per cent).’
People under the age of 65 were more likely to spend the cash on household bills, debts and their mortgage. Many also chose to spent the money on food
ABS head of household surveys, Michelle Marquardt, said states varied in how many people qualified for the payment
The phone survey of approximately 2,600 people also found the vast majority of people were taking action to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Ms Marquardt said 95 per cent of people were social distancing and 77 per cent had cancelled social gatherings.
‘There were interesting findings comparing the actions of people born overseas and those born in Australia,’ Ms Marquardt said.
‘People born overseas were more than twice as likely to have worn a facemask at least once in the four weeks before the survey was conducted (42 per cent) than people born in Australia (20 per cent) and to purchase additional medical supplies than those born in Australia (24 per cent compared to 15 per cent).
Many Australians spent their stimulus cash on alcohol with many pubs closed during the first round of lockdown in May