SPEAKING UP: Fair Go For Pensioners Alliance spokesman John Davies with a petition against rate rebate inequity.
SPEAKING UP: Fair Go For Pensioners Alliance spokesman John Davies with a petition against rate rebate inequity. Warren Lynam

Pensioners miss out on rate rebate

WHY do two residents living side-by-side in similar units pay vastly different rates to Sunshine Coast Council?

That's a question a group of Peregian pensioners want answered before they vote on March 19.

Unlike Moreton, Gold Coast, Ipswich and Douglas Shire, Sunshine Coast Council does not provide a rebate to pensioners living in lifetime-leased accommodation even though they are required to pay rate contributions through their retirement villages.

It means according to Fair Go For Pensioners Alliance spokesman John Davies that people moving into such arrangements find themselves paying an additional $600 in rates annually for the privilege.

His partner moved from a villa where she received a rebate since she was 65 into an apartment she leases and to which the concession does not apply.

A petition in support of 17 Gracemere residents affected by the policy has already attracted 140 signatures.

Mr Davies said most retirement and assisted living complexes were moving to lifetime lease arrangements.

He said the people affected were long-time Sunshine Coast residents who had paid rates all their lives and were now in their 70s, 80s and 90s.

Most had previously benefited from rate rebates before entering lifetime lease arrangements.

"People move from a villa or their own home into a serviced apartment that is all leased under a community title scheme," Mr Davies said.

"They've received concessions for donkey years and are contracted as part of the (lease) agreement to pay rates. It is crazy."

Division 9 candidate Scott Larsen, who came across the issue on the campaign trail, said other areas provided discounts through the retirement villages on the proviso they were passed on in full.

"I've seen where two identical units pay two different amounts in rates because one can't afford to buy so is on a lifetime lease and have to pay more," Mr Larsen said.

A Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson said it provided subsidies of $3.1m annually in concessions to full and part pensioners who own property unlike Moreton and Gold Coast who she said provided nothing to part pensioners.

She said the council, like Townsville, Toowoomba, Scenic Rim and Redlands, required ratepayers meet the criteria for the Queensland Government Pensioner Rate Subsidy which "does not offer a concession to pensioners who live in a leased unit within a community title scheme as they are not the owners of the property".

Mr Davies said the council policy ignored Chapter 10 section 123 of the State scheme which says rebates may be granted if the land owner agrees to pass on the full amount to the pensioner.

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