Sep 06, 2023

Pension increase won’t stop vulnerable people from skipping meals

Australian Council of Social Service data found the upcoming increase to payment rates will not be enough to prevent “widespread distress”. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • The maximum rate of the single Age Pension will rise by $32.70 per fortnight (from $1064 to $1096.70) and for couples, by $49.40 per fortnight (a combined payment from $1604 to $1653.40)
  • Single JobSeeker Payment recipients will receive a base payment of $749.20 per fortnight, a $56.10 increase. For JobSeeker recipients aged 55-59 unemployed for more than nine months, the payment increase will be $96.10 per fortnight
  • The Commonwealth Rent Assistance will also increase by 15%. The maximum rate for a single renter will rise by $27.60 to $184.80 per fortnight, for a couple by $26 to $174
  • Income limits for eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card are increasing by $5,400 to $95,400 per annum for singles and by $8,640 to $152,640 for couples combined, meaning more self-funded retirees could now be eligible for concessions

From September 20, the Age Pension, Veteran Payment, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment will receive an increase due to indexation but some experts are saying it’s not enough. 

This follows new data from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACSS) that suggests almost three-quarters of people receiving income support are eating less or skipping meals due to the low rate of payments and rising cost of living. The data found the upcoming increase to payment rates will not be enough to prevent “widespread distress”.

National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said while older people will welcome the Age Pension increase, the current system pensioners are still behind, especially with high inflation rates.

“More can be done to support older people doing it tough,” Mr Henschke said. 

Recent National Seniors research showed a greater proportion of people with low incomes and those who are renting are suffering from cost-of-living pressures with 39% of older renters claiming they were experiencing severe cost-of-living impacts compared to only 11% of older homeowners.

Research results from National Seniors. [Source: National Seniors]

Mr Henschke has again called for the Government to stop penalising older people who need or want to work. 

“In our Employment White Paper Submission we have called on the Government to simplify the tax and transfer system to boost workforce participation, and with it income and savings,” he said. 

“This could be achieved by reducing the taper rate from 50c to 32.5c in the dollar to align with the tax system. It’s simple, fair, will help solve critical workforce shortage, and boost the budget bottom line.”

In March, single and disability pension recipients received an extra $37.50 per fortnight from to match inflation as part of bi-yearly indexation.

Carers also received an additional $37.50 per fortnight, while pensioner couples received an extra $56.40.

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