Date set for $250 cost-of-living payment

Australians will begin receiving the first of two promised one-off cost-of-living payments within weeks.

A central pillar of the federal government’s Budget announcement last week was two one-off payments aimed at easing the extraordinary cost-of-living pressures being experienced by everyday Australians.

The first is a $250 cash payment for vulnerable Australians already receiving government pensions or holding a concession card and the other is a $420 tax offset to be paid at tax time for anyone earning up to $126,000 per year.

Now, the first of these payments has a date set. Services Australia (SA) advises it will begin depositing the $250 into the bank accounts of eligible recipients on 28 April.

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To be eligible for the $250 payment, you need to be receiving one of the following government payments: ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Age Pension, Austudy, Carer Payment, Carer Allowance (only if you are not receiving any other payment), Disability Support Pension, Double Orphan Pension, Farm Household Allowance, JobSeeker, Parenting Payment, Special Benefit, Youth Allowance and certain Veteran’s Affairs payments.

In addition, if you hold one of the following concession cards you are also eligible to receive the $250: Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Pension Concession Card (if you’re not receiving income support) and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) Gold Card.

If you’re eligible, there’s no need to apply or contact Centrelink and the payment will be made automatically to your bank account from 28 April.

You get the $250 payment only once, even if you receive one of the above payments and hold an eligible concession card.

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While any extra money is welcome, many have criticised the $250 payment as being inadequate, especially for vulnerable people already living in precarious circumstances.

Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie says the payment is not much more than a stop-gap measure aimed at securing votes.

“The Budget does nothing to lift the incomes of people with the least,” Dr Goldie says.

“While we welcome the extension of the $250 bonus payment to people on pensions and allowances, when you’re living on $46 a day, this payment will help for a week or two, but people have to pay the rent 52 weeks a year.”

“Unfortunately, although the government says this is a cost-of-living budget, it fails to deal with the biggest cost of living, which is housing.”

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Personal finance guru Noel Whittaker agrees, saying the money won’t help much and could have been better spent elsewhere.

“There is a $250 payment to welfare recipients which won’t do much to assist them, and will mean another $2 billion borrowed by the government,” says Mr Whittaker.

“I wonder if $2 billion could be better spent on other benefits for older people.”

The $420 tax offset for low- and middle-income earners is set to be paid when people lodge their tax returns this year, and will paid on top of the low- and middle-income tax offset (LMITO) that will be paid for the last time at the conclusion of the current financial year.

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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