HOW much does a single adult need to live on?
According to a survey of 500 Australians conducted for the Australia Institute, the amount, when averaged, is $454 a week - about $65 a day.
When 500 people in a separate survey were asked how much unemployed Australians should get from Centrelink they settled on $329 a week, or $47 a day.
But the less-impressive truth is the Newstart allowance peaks at $243 a week - $34.70 a day.
''Most Australians have little idea what unemployed Australians actually get,'' the executive director of the Australia Institute, Richard Denniss, said when releasing the survey results. ''They know what their own cost of living is and they think unemployed Australians should get something approaching it, but they would be shocked to find out what a Newstart recipient actually got.''
The $86 gap between Newstart itself and what Australians believe it should be exceeds the $50 increase proposed by a coalition of business, welfare and union organisations led by the Australian Council of Social Service. ACOSS says the increase would cost $1.2 billion a year.
Asked what they would cut back on if they were forced to live on $243 a week, 88 per cent of those surveyed said they would drive their car less, 77 per cent would use less electricity and gas for heating and 63 per cent would buy less fresh food.
''More disturbing are the findings 47 per cent would cut back on education and training and 45 per cent would cut back on visits to the doctor,'' Dr Denniss said. ''Poor health and poor education make it hard to get off Newstart and hard to get good jobs.''
A separate study by the Tenants Union of Victoria has found the single Newstart allowance now barely meets the median rent of a one-bedroom flat in Melbourne and Perth, and falls well short of the median rent in Sydney.
The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has ruled out boosting the $34.70-a-day allowance in the May budget.