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Older Australians pushed into poverty by Newstart

National Seniors is partnering other leading community advocacy organisations calling on the major parties this election to fix pensioner poverty and boost the Newstart allowance for jobless older workers.

National Seniors Australia, COTA Australia and The Benevolent Society are supporting the Raise the Rate campaign to stop older unemployed people being pushed into poverty by a Newstart Allowance that for decades has lagged costs of living.

The campaign calls for the allowance to be immediately increased and for a commitment to the wellbeing of older Australians.

Also, it is critical of the major parties for ignoring the plight of Newstart recipients who are already too often excluded from the workforce simply because of their age.

Poverty is an increasing reality for jobless older Australians demoralised by long-term unemployment and an inadequate Newstart allowance that hasn’t been adequately increased for decades.

Social Security department figures indicate there are more workers aged 55-64 receiving Newstart than any other age cohort, and older workers spend longer on Newstart than any other age group.

Older workers face being pushed into poverty as they head to retirement. This is especially the case for those who rent, who have not been able to accumulate significant savings and those facing high out-of-pocket health costs. This election is the time to make this happen. The evidence of the impact of inadequate Newstart payments is readily available, there’s no need for further review.

Fixing pensioner poverty is a key National Seniors election priority and requires swift action by whichever party wins government.

Affordable dental care for age pensioners is a key demand. Poor oral health is linked to chronic diseases, including stroke and heart disease, but is out of reach of many pensioners and those in aged care.

Taking politics out of the age pension is another key policy and National Seniors wants the establishment of an Age Pension Tribunal to independently set the age pension rate.

The tribunal would take responsibility for calculating a fair and adequate pension rate and any supplements based on need and circumstance.

This, along with cutting the age pension taper rate from $3 to $2, will help ensure pensioners can better sustain a standard of living.

Assisting pensioners access housing and better connect to internet services were also important ways to alleviate pensioner poverty.

Mr Henschke said the private rental market was out of reach for many older people but could be improved by lifting the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance.

The maximum rate of assistance could be set by our proposed Age Pension Tribunal so pensioners who rent receive enough income to meet reasonable living costs, no matter where they live.

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