National Seniors is calling on the Federal Government not to axe payment of the Energy Supplement to new welfare recipients from 20 September this year.
In a submission to a Senate Committee, National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said energy prices had continued to rise and seniors were among those hardest hit.
“National Seniors opposes the proposal within the draft bill to cease payment of the Energy Supplement for all new welfare recipients, including Age Pension recipients, from 20 September 2017,” Mr Henschke said.
“From July 2017, energy retailers have increased retail prices for residential customers on average by 20 per cent in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia and seven per cent in Queensland. Electricity prices in Tasmania would have increased by 15 per cent without state government intervention to restrict these to two per cent.”
He said the excessive rises in NSW, ACT and SA were roughly equal to the existing Energy Supplement.
This meant the impact of increased prices and supplement removal would have a combined annual impact of about $600 a year on affected households in 2017-18 in these three jurisdictions.
Rather than halting payments of the Energy Supplement to new recipients, Mr Henschke called for it to be increased.
“National Seniors believes that the Energy Supplement should be increased to reflect the higher energy costs facing low-income households,” he said.
“In this regard, we would support changing the Energy Supplement to align payment rates with changes in electricity prices. Not only would this ensure that the Energy Supplement is adequate over time, but it would also provide an impetus for government to play an active role in reducing the cost of energy.
“National Seniors urges all members of parliament to reject this bill. In addition, the Federal Government must work constructively to address the root causes of rising energy prices in Australia.”