Age pension increase announced for March 20

Single pension to rise by $10.20 a fortnight excluding supplements from March 20

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Pension rise won't lift many older people out of poverty. Image Shutterstock

Pension rise won't lift many older people out of poverty. Image Shutterstock

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March indexation pension rises announced.

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IT MIGHT get you a couple of packets of toilet roll - if you can find any in the shops, but it won't make you flush - the government has announced the March age pension increases - $10.20 per fortnight for singles and $7.70 for each member of a couple excluding supplements.

The rises will come into effect from March 20 and also apply to the disability support pension and carers payment. The pension supplement rises by 70 cents p/f (single) and 60 cents (couple each).

There is no increase to the energy supplement which remains at $14.10 p/f single and $10.60 (couple each).

It takes the single pension to $944.30 p/f (including supplements) and the couple (each) pension to $711.80 (including supplements).

The last pension increase was in September.

Rental assistance will go up by $1.60 p/f single no children and $1.60 couple no children.

Despite strong lobbying from welfare groups there is little joy for the unemployed. Single New Start recipients over age 22 no children (now called the Jobseeker Payment) will get a rise of S6.70 p/f to $565.70 base rate. With children an increase of $7.30 p/f to $612.

Singles over 60 years after nine months will receive an increase of $7.30 p/f to $612. Partnered each an increase of $6.10 p/f to $510.80.

Ian Yates chief executive of senior's advocacy group Council on the Ageing (COTA) welcomed the increases which are determined by the higher of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI) and benchmarked against movements in Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE).

The age pension should ensure that no older Australian lives in poverty. - Ian Yates, chief executive COTA

However, he said, the age pension in Australia hovers around the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) poverty line and COTA has asked the current Retirement Income Review to consider the most appropriate benchmark for the age pension, noting that while the OECD benchmark is 50 per cent of median earnings the European Union uses 60 per cent of median earnings.

"The age pension should ensure that no older Australian lives in poverty," he said.

"In this regard we remain very disappointed that successive governments have not increased the Commonwealth Rental Allowance (CRA), which is only indexed by the CPI while rents have risen faster, and most pensioners in the private rental market are living in poverty.

"We have argued for a 40 per cent increase in CRA and urged the Retirement Income Review to give this special attention."

Ian Henschke, chief advocate for National Seniors said every little helped but Australia had twice the rate of pension poverty as our Commonwealth cousins in NZ and Canada.

It's important the Retirement Income Review looks at how we can do the pension better, he said.

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