Cost of living

Older homeowners need downsizing options

A proposal to change superannuation concessions for older Australians who downsize their homes will not be effective on its own, according to National Seniors Australia.

Ahead of the 9 May Federal Budget, the Federal Government is believed to be considering tax concessions for retirees who downsize by selling the family home.

But National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said this week that the proposal was too narrow on its own.

“Our Rightsizing proposal would benefit more Australian seniors,” Mr Henschke said.

Inquiry into retail electricity prices

The Federal Government has ordered an inquiry into retail electricity pricing.

Consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said it would be looking at why prices had risen so much in each state and territory.

“Electricity prices have nearly doubled on top of inflation in most parts of Australia over the past decade, based on a variety of different factors,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Seniors call for health insurance shake-up

National Seniors has urged the Federal Government to focus on inefficiencies in the Australian health insurance system, rather than allowing private health insurers to keep jacking up premiums.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke today said the affordability of private health insurance was one of the biggest concerns for older Australians.

Premiums increased by almost 40 per cent between 2010 and 2016, and would rise another 4.8 per cent from 1 April, which was around three times the rate of inflation.

Call to cut prescription drugs prices

A new report calls for an overhaul in the way the government pays for prescription drugs, saying that Australians pay more than $500 million a year too much.

The Grattan Institute’s report Cutting a better drug deal says taxpayers and patients would pay less if the federal government changed the way prices are set under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The report finds drug prices in Australia are more than twice as high as in the UK and more than three times higher than in New Zealand.

Call to cut prescription drugs prices

A new report calls for an overhaul in the way the government pays for prescription drugs, saying that Australians pay more than $500 million a year too much.

The Grattan Institute’s report Cutting a better drug deal says taxpayers and patients would pay less if the federal government changed the way prices are set under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The report finds drug prices in Australia are more than twice as high as in the UK and more than three times higher than in New Zealand.

Help with energy bills for vulnerable Queenslanders

Low income and vulnerable Queenslanders can now get a one-off payment of up to $720 towards their energy bills in times of emergency.

Queensland Minister for Energy Mark Bailey today outlined changes to the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (HEEAS) to make it easier for people to access the scheme.

“HEEAS helps low-income households who are in short-term financial difficulty because of unexpected, emergency expenses to get back on their feet through a one-off payment of up to $720 towards their energy account,” Mr Bailey said.

More older people battling housing stress

Older Australians are facing an increasingly uphill battle with the cost of renting in the private market, data from the Productivity Commission’s 2017 Report on Government Services shows.

Without access to Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), 57.2 per cent of people aged over 75 years would have been in housing stress across Australia in 2016, according to the statistics.

After receiving CRA, a staggering 26.5 per cent of recipients aged 75 years or over were still in housing stress in 2016, up from 25.5 per cent in 2015.

Bigger cities breeding greater inequality

A new study shows Australia’s growing major cities are increasing the divide between rich and poor.

Dr Somwrita Sarkar of the University of Sydney’s Urban Lab said that as cities grew, a disproportionate amount of the wealth went to top income earners.

“Our research suggests that bigger cities are serving the rich more, and making them less affordable for all,” Dr Sarkar said.

“This could end up driving lower income earners out of the big cities or to the fringes, and creates greater inequality in Australian society.”

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