New survey finds poverty gap bigger than ever before

NATIONAL research has found more people believe the gap between rich and poor has grown as families' spending habits are revealed.

The Roy Morgan research, commissioned by the Salvation Army, found more than 71 per cent of people believe the rich divide has grown while more people become aware of people experiencing financial hardship this Christmas.

While almost one quarter of the population is concerned about how to pay for Christmas, nearly 40% admit their household buys too much food for the festive day.

"It's heartbreaking that some families have more than enough food to share while others are skipping meals and are unable to buy their child a Christmas present," Salvation Army Major Bruce Harmer said.

Toowoomba-based Salvation Army Major Kevin Holland said demand for financial assistance from the organisation was "as high, if not higher" for a helping hand this year.

"People want to provide a nice Christmas but for some that's not always possible," he said.

"There's a sense of helplessness and hopelessness that come with their requests.

"Sometimes it can lead to panic but we're encouraging people to come early so we can plan the best level of help possible."

Almost 50% of respondents said they spent more than $100 on gifts for their partners while 60% of Salvation Army clients said they could not afford presents.

More than 45% of survey respondents said they spent $150 or more on Christmas Day food, with 1.3% admitting to spending $750 or more.

Major Holland said anyone needing a helping hand this Christmas should contact the Salvation Army early on 4632 7206.

He said people wanting to donate gift cards or goods should contact the office.

Roy Morgan surveyed 1171 of people aged 18-64 years using its online panel.



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