A survey conducted by the Australian National University (ANU) has found that the majority of Australians want the current age pension increased to ease fears of poverty.
The results show that seven out of 10 Australians think the age pension should be lifted to $1,115 per fortnight as opposed to $944.30 per fortnight.
Of the 3500 survey participants, 55.7 per cent were not yet retired but expressed deep concerns they would not have enough savings to retire, worried the current pension rate would lead to uncomfortable living.
ANU study co-author Nicholas Biddle said the largest cohort concerned about their retirement funds were women, those who haven’t completed high school and those living in regional areas.
“Of those Australians who say they are worried about not having enough money in retirement in 2021, females, people who hadn’t finished year 12 and those outside capital cities were most concerned,” Biddle said.
Biddle said the study results show a large shift in concern since the last survey in 2013 found 39.6 per cent believed the age pension was too low, despite the recent age pension increase seen in March 2022.
However, with the rising cost of living and inflation hitting a 20 year high, MP Bob Katter said the pension payments need to be increased by a further $100 a fortnight for older Australians to make ends meet.
“People who have worked their whole lives for our nation can’t afford to live on the pension payment they are getting now. Some people on the pension did not have superannuation for most of their working life,” Katter said.
In addition to a pension payment increase, senior advocates are calling for the pension income test to be lifted to allow more older Australians to be eligible for the social security payments and allow them to earn extra money on the side.
“Let pensioners, part pensioners even, let them earn real money as casual workers in these desperate industries, and don’t cut their pension for doing that,” Mitchell said.
“There are nearly four million retirees in this country on part or full pensions. There are 2.6 million on the aged pension, that is 62 per cent of the population over the age of 65. It is a huge resource which we should exploit — a hidden army.”
The Australian Retail Association (ARA) joined the chorus, claiming that raising the income test and allowing pensioners to work again could solve Australia’s labour shortage problems.
The ARA is calling for the next government to make employment income exempt from the age pension income test so more pensioners can fill critical worker gaps.
— Australian Retailers Association (ARA) (@retailaustralia) May 18, 2022
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said “making changes that exempt employment income from the Age Pension income test going forward would benefit everyone in our economy”.
“It provides pensioners with the opportunity to supplement their income if they wish, retailers with access to a willing and capable workforce to assist amid ever-present labour shortages, and the wider economy with a more empowered pension group that will be mobilised to spend by newfound employment opportunities,” Zahra said in a statement.
“Additionally, those on the aged pension are interested in returning to work from a sense of social duty and responsibility as well. They are a group critical to the fabric of our communities, and this generous sense of social duty should be freely welcomed, rather than significantly constrained by mechanisms such as the Aged Pension income test.”