Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Mike Knott BUN310519ANA12

Budget help for seniors as Premier highlights priorities

The Queensland Government will allocate more than $5 billion to help ease the pressure on household budgets, with seniors a key priority.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said next week's State Budget would keep delivering on the commitments her government was making to Queenslanders and would help hard-pressed families, young people, seniors and pensioners to manage the cost of living.

"I am always mindful of the need to ease the burden of household bills," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Our extensive range of concessions are there to assist Queenslanders no matter where they live," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Assisting seniors and pensioners is quite rightly, always a key priority for the Labor Government. They deserve a fair go and proper recognition."

The Budget will allocate more than $5.66 billion in the 2019/20 financial year, which is more than a $76 million increase over 2018/19.

The assistance includes $192.3 million to deliver the electricity rebate to eligible seniors, pensioners, veterans and low-income families. The electricity rebate provides assistance of $341 per year towards electricity costs.

To help pensioners to live in their own homes, the Pensioner Rate Subsidy Scheme offers a 20 per cent subsidy (up to a maximum of $200 per year) to lessen the impact of local government rates and charges.

And the Pensioner Water Waste Subsidy Scheme provides up to $120 a year to reduce water bills.

These two schemes alone are budgeted to save Queensland pensioners $74.1 million over the next 12 months.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the June 11 Budget would also invest in jobs today and for the future and would keep delivering in the key areas of health and education.

"There are a range of concessions for younger Queenslanders," Ms Trad said,

"To help them get started on a career or into a job, textbook and resource allowances are available for secondary students and travel and accommodation subsidies for apprentices."

In 2017 the Palaszczuk Government extended the eligibility for the Electricity Rebate to Commonwealth Health Care Card (HCC) holders and asylum seekers, however too many are still missing out as they haven't applied for it.

"I encourage everyone to check the Smart Savings website for concessions that can make a real difference in easing people's financial worries," Ms Trad said.

Visit qld.gov.au/smartsavings to access Smart Savings or contact the Queensland Government call centre on 13QGOV (13 74 68).

Among the top 10 concessions by total government spend are:

  • Electricity Rebate Scheme ($192.3 million) helps Queensland pensioners and seniors pay their electricity bill with a rebate of up to $341 a year.
  • Vehicle and Boat Registration Concessions ($185.1 million) reduces the cost of vehicle and boat registration fees for seniors and pensioners.
  • Oral Health Scheme ($163.6 million) provides free dental care to eligible Queenslanders and their dependents.
  • Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme ($92.5 million)provides financial assistance to patients who need to access specialist medical services not available within their local area. It provides a subsidy towards the cost of travel and accommodation for patients and, in some cases, an approved escort.
  • Pensioner Rate Subsidy Scheme ($55.2 million) offers a 20% subsidy, up to a maximum of $200 per year, to lessen the impact of local government rates and charges on pensioners, thereby assisting them to continue to live in their own homes.

Some of the less well-known concessions and loans include:

  • Medical Aids Subsidy Scheme provides funding assistance to eligible people for a range of aids and equipment, like mobility aids, artificial limbs or vehicle modifications, to help them live at home and avoid premature or inappropriate residential care or hospitalisation.
  • Rental Bond Loans provides interest-free rental bond loans, equivalent to a maximum amount of four weeks rent, for people who cannot afford to pay a full bond to move into private rental accommodation.
  • Spectacle Supply Scheme provides eligible Queensland residents with a pair of basic prescription spectacles, once every two years.
  • Home Assist Secure helps eligible people over 60, or those with a disability, with assistance to remain living in their home, either owned or rented. Free-safety related information and referrals are available, plus subsidised assistance to pay for critical maintenance services.

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