Have your pension say

The Government has recently hosted Pension Reviews throughout the country to find out what Australian pensioners need to sustain a basic standard of living.

AboutSeniors attended the Melbourne Pension Review on Monday 22 September 2008 to get an idea of the main factors that are making it difficult for people to survive on a pension. The over-riding difficulty that pensioners face is the increase in living costs outweighing a pension increase they have received over the last few years. While the aim for the review is to make sure that all issues are looked at and a sustainable and workable plan put in place to increase the pension, it is clear that some sort of interim action is needed now, not in nine months time. A $30 a week increase on pensions would benefit 900,000 Australians immediately.

Another critical factor stretching pensioners’ budgets is the availability of affordable housing, with many forced to move further from town centres and the vital support services needed, thus increasing their transport costs. There also seems to be a lack of understanding of the different needs that people have, such as support services that those with a disability need to survive, but are denied access to once they move to the Age Pension.

The means of receiving allowances through tax concessions is not effective for many pensioners, with 33% of allowances going to 15% of the countries top earners and many pensioners receiving no tax concessions at all. An increase of the medications available on PBS is called for, or a substantial increase in the Pharmaceutical Allowance is required to cover the cost of the medications taken by those on a pension.

One of the main bones of contention is the rate of the Single Age Pension and the seemingly unfair allocation of allowances between singles and couples. The assumption that those living alone can live half as cheaply as those is a couple is wrong, with rent payments and many utility bills being the same regardless of living status.

If you have not been able to make it along to a Pension Review in your area, you can still make a {encode=”[email protected]” title=”submission by email”}.