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.

Seniors welcome transport, mental health funding in Qld budget

Queensland seniors welcome the announcement of cheaper fares public transport fares and funding for mental health programs as part of the state’s 2016/17 budget.

National Seniors Australia’s Queensland policy group chair Vera Somerwil said older people could travel more often with the cost of a trip from Beenleigh to Brisbane CBD, for example, falling from $7.27 to $5.96 from 1 January 2017.

Seniors slugged in ACT budget

Many older residents of the ACT will find it more difficult to make ends meet following the announcement of tougher eligibility rules for concessions and rebates in the 2016/17 budget, National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill said.

Handed down on Tuesday by Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr, the budget tightens the eligibility age of ACT Seniors Card holders which will increase to 65 years from 60 years at present.

This means that from 1 July 2017, Seniors Card eligibility will increase to 61 years, then rise by one year every two years until 2025.

Older Australians welcome Labor commitment to pension review

Older Australians have welcomed Labor’s commitment to an independent review of the pension means test, should it win government.

The taper rate changes announced by the Coalition in 2015, and due to take effect in January, will see retirees with modest savings and a family home receiving a lower annual income than someone on a full pension.

National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill said: “An independent review into the pension means test is welcome”.

WA seniors to feel the pinch of increased household charges

Retirees on low, fixed incomes are set to feel the pinch of the Western Australian budget, seniors say.

Household fees and charges will jump by an average of $257 or 4.76 per cent in 2016/17, increases most of the state’s seniors were ill equipped to absorb, said National Seniors’ state policy advisory group chair June MacDonald.

“These rises in essential services such as power, water and public transport will be a strain on older residents,” she said.

Transport fare freeze gives NSW seniors a reprieve

NSW seniors are relieved that the state government has imposed a freeze on public transport fares.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said there would be no increase to train, ferry, bus or light rail fares until July 2017 and the Gold Senior/Pensioner Opal Card eligibility and $2.50 daily fare cap remained unaltered – for now.

This was despite recommended changes to fares, structure and benefits by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

Seniors have little cause for joy in Victorian budget

Victorian seniors have little cause for celebration despite the state government promising a $2.9 billion budget surplus for the 2016/17 financial year.

National Seniors Victorian Policy Advisory Group spokesperson Vicki Davidson said the budget was at best neutral and at worst a disappointment for older people who were looking for a little relief from the relentless rise of living costs.

“Older people on fixed incomes often struggle to make ends meet but their fight is not about to get any easier,” Ms Davidson said.

Seniors dismiss calls to raise pension age and include family home in the assets test

Older Australians have dismissed a conservative think tank report that calls on government to raise the pension age and include the family home in the assets test.

Claiming that younger people are increasingly bearing the costs of their elders, the Centre for Independent Studies report, The myths of the generational bargain, makes five policy recommendations to tighten access to both the pension and superannuation.

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