Concessions

Power price deal still short-changes seniors

A deal aimed at delivering cheaper prices to electricity consumers is a step in the right direction – but it doesn’t go far enough, according to National Seniors Australia.

Seven retailers, including AGL Energy, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, yesterday agreed to tell householders how they could get a better deal when their discount period was about to end.

This was aimed at ensuring consumers have the best power deal available.

Seniors encouraged to access power rebates

National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke has encouraged seniors to make full use of power and other concessions available from state and local governments.

The call comes after the Queensland Government last week said fewer than 10 per cent of eligible people had taken up a rebate introduced in April to ease cost-of-living pressures.

The government provided $170 million for the rebate and encouraged seniors, health care card holders and asylum seekers to contact their electricity retailers to apply for the concession.

WA concessions change to aid budget repair

The Western Australian Government has announced increases to household fees and charges, including seniors’ concessions, to help the state with ‘budget repair’.

Consumers will be slugged an average of 7.7 per cent, which represents a basket of household fees and charges.

For seniors' households with Commonwealth concessions cards, the government will continue to provide the 50 per cent rebates for water service charges capped at $600 and local government rates capped at $750, and a 50 per cent rebate on the underground electricity connection charge.

Seniors welcome Queensland budget social housing commitment

National Seniors has welcomed the Queensland Government’s budget commitment this week to invest in new social housing.

The Chair of National Seniors’ Queensland Policy Advisory Group, Vera Somerwil, said the government’s allocation of $1.8 billion over 10 years to build more than 5,500 social and affordable homes, along with a boost to electricity concessions, would go some way towards helping older Queenslanders cope with the rising cost of living.

Energy supplement cuts misguided, say seniors

National Seniors has rejected Federal Government moves to scuttle the energy supplement for new Age Pension recipients from September 20.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the government’s plan to cut the supplement in a bid to save almost $1 billion over four years was misguided.

Full and part pensioners were consistently being targeted for savings when their incomes were among the lowest in the country.

Federal Budget 2017-18: Summary of budget measures

Downsizing

National Seniors believes the government’s initiative is more about enabling contributions into superannuation than downsizing.

The government introduced the initiative to allow people aged 65 and over to sell the family home and roll up to $300,000 ($600,000 couples) into superannuation.

The policy is scheduled to come into effect from 1 July 2018.

Vic & NT budget wins for seniors

National Seniors Australia has welcomed the Victorian and Northern Territory Governments’ decisions to maintain concessions to tens of thousands of aged pensioners in their budgets delivered this week.

National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the decisions would ensure many older Victorians and Territorians continued to have access to cheaper utilities, including electricity, gas and water.

The concessions for Territorians would be worth almost $44 million next financial year, and for Victorians $18 million for each of the next four years.

Pensions increase with inflation rate from 20 March

Nearly five million people will get a small rise in their pensions or government allowances from 20 March as part of the twice-yearly indexation.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the 1.3 per cent increase reflected the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the six months to December 2016.

The Age Pension and Disability Support Pension will lift by $11.20 a fortnight, bringing the maximum single rate to $888.30 a fortnight.

The rate will rise by $16.80 for a couple combined to $1,339.20 (including Pension Supplement and Energy Supplement).

More hits to retirees as budget repair gets underway

The Coalition Government has struck a deal with Labor this week to progress the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill, with the payment of the energy supplement to end for some older people.

National Seniors Chief Executive Dagmar Parsons said that in the rush towards Budget repair, low income retirees had been forgotten again.

“Obviously, we welcome the announcement that the energy supplement will be retained for all existing and new recipients of the Age Pension,” Parsons said.

NSW budget surplus sets a good example, say seniors

Seniors have welcomed news that the NSW Government has posted a budget surplus, a fiscal outcome other states would envy.

NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian revealed a $3.4 billion surplus for the 2015/16 financial year and said she expected the state would be virtually debt free by the end of the current financial year.

National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill said such a scenario would be a positive development, particularly if it helped enrich the lives of the state’s older people and eased cost of living pressures for them.

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