Age Pension and Newstart saved from cuts

FOR those on the Age Pension the future looks somewhat brighter, with an increase in their payment rate to come into effect from September 20.

The Age Pension payment rate will increase by between $2.50 and $3.20 per fortnight from that date, dependent on your personal circumstances.

For example, a single person on the base payment rate will see their fortnightly payment rise by $3.20 to $877.10 a fortnight (based on the base rate, supplement and energy supplement).

Meanwhile, a couple on the base payment rate would see a $2.50 increase each in their fortnightly payment, leaving them with a combined fortnightly payment of $1322.40 (based on the base rate, supplement and energy supplement).

Recipients of other payments, including Newstart Allowance, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Widow Allowance, Partner Allowance and Sickness Allowance will also receive an increase.

The deal follows weeks of uncertainty surrounding the government's so-called omnibus bill - a package of 20 measures which had included cutting the energy supplement for eligible recipients, including those on Newstart and pensioners.

However, a $6.3 billion budget savings deal brokered between the Coalition and Labor this week has spared proposed cuts to Newstart and pension payments.

Although new recipients of the Family Tax Benefit and Commonwealth seniors card holders will lose their supplement.

Leading seniors advocate COTA Australia has welcomed the agreement between the government and opposition to remove the cuts to Newstart and pensions from the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill.

COTA chief executive Ian Yates said given almost a third of Newstart recipients were 50 and over, these cuts would have a had a significant impact on many older Australians who are already under high levels of financial pressure.

"Older people, and in fact any Newstart recipient, finds it extremely difficult to get by on the current paltry Newstart allowance and any reduction to the benefit would have been a further unconscionable blow.

"While the Government and Opposition should be congratulated for reaching an agreement to keep the Energy Supplement for Newstart and pensions, there is a long way to go before Newstart in particular is anything close to a liveable income.

"The sad reality is that many people over 50 who find themselves unemployed struggle to find another job - age discrimination remains a significant barrier to re-employment.

"Newstart, designed as a short term safety net, instead becomes the only long term income for older people who slide further and further into poverty before becoming eligible for the Age Pension.

"It is time the inadequacy of Newstart was taken up as an issue by all sides of government and some better support given to the most vulnerable in our society."

For more details on the Age Pension, visit www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/age-pension.

For more details on Newstart, visit www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/eligibility-newstart-allowance.


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