Many older Australians struggle to make ends meet, particularly if they rely on fortnightly Age Pension payments to get by. Now advocates are calling on the federal government to help the ageing population out of poverty by giving them a “fair-go” in the next budget.
National Seniors published their 2019-20 Budget Submission on Wednesday, revealing their recommendations for the Coalition as we edge closer to the release of the new federal budget in April.
Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the proposed changes would help pensioners, who are being “failed” by the government, and “vulnerable older people”, amid the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety which he said has shone a light on the country’s failure to support them.
Among the recommendations is a plea for the government to introduce an independent Age Pension Tribunal who would be responsible for setting “fair” rates, regardless of which political party is in office.
“The tribunal would take responsibility for calculating a fair and adequate pension rate and any supplements based on need and circumstance,” Henschke said. “Its decisions would be accepted without debate in the same way monetary policy is set by the Reserve Bank.”
Other recommendations outlined in the report include increasing assistance for private renters, supporting access to online services through subsided NBN connections, expanding dental care for pensioners and helping pensioners with energy costs, adding that the lowest income households are being hit hardest by escalating energy prices.
“Accessing the private rental market, which is increasingly out of reach for many pensioners, can be improved by lifting the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance,” Henschke added.
The submission also want the government to exempt up to $250,000 of home sale proceeds from the means test, which they claim would support retirees with limited assets by “unlocking the wealth” held in their family home.
“Investing downsizing proceeds in superannuation without impacting the pension will increase the incomes of many older people who might otherwise choose not to, enabling them to live in more suitable housing while also freeing up larger housing stock.”
In light of the royal commission, which is ongoing, they also made calls to address home care shortages and improve the support available to people living with dementia.
And the need for nationally consistent laws on Power of Attorney was also raised, with National Seniors calling on all tiers of government to protect vulnerable Australians from eler abuse.
To read the full submission, click here.
Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.