Budget 2022: short-term fix, opportunity missed

Cost-of-living payment 'short-term fix'

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Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock


Many income support recipients will receive the least relief from cost-of-living pressures.


The Federal Budget has been described as relying on short-term fixes to address cost of living concerns while missing the opportunity to set Australia on a stronger long-term path of future prosperity.

Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) chief economist Jarrod Ball said while temporary measures such as cutting the fuel excise, cost-of-living tax offsets and one-off payments will be welcomed by many, the government had "only taken modest steps to permanently lift the capacity of households to navigate the growing pressures on the economy".

"The $8.6 billion of cost-of-living measures mostly benefit income earners and motorists, with many income support recipients receiving the least relief from cost-of-living pressures," he said.

So what is in the budget for seniors?

A ONE-OFF $250 cost-of-living payment to eligible pensioners, welfare recipients, veterans and eligible concession card holders in April;

A 12-MONTH extension of the 50 per cent reduction in the minimum superannuation drawdown;

LOWERING of the PBS safety net threshold by just over $80 (from $326.40 to $244.80); the general safety net threshold will reduce from $1542.10 to $1457.10.

A FURTHER 40,000 new home care packages.

While the one-off $250 cost-of-living bonus has been widely welcomed, advocates say it won't address the problems faced by our most vulnerable.

"Full rate pensioners are close to dropping below the poverty line," said Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association policy manager Paul Versteege.

"The quarter of a million over-55s who eke out an existence on Jobseeker are way under the poverty line already."

And for those who rent in the private market, the extra money is of little help.

"If a landlord increases rent by as little as $5 a week, this money is gone - and rent is only one example," said National Seniors Australia chief advocate Ian Henschke.

These sentiments were echoed by Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Cassandra Goldie.

"If 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," she said.

"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.

"Perversely, the housing measures it [the budget] contains will very likely push up house prices and make housing affordability worse."

Mission Australia chief executive Sharon Callister said the lack of a national plan to end homelessness and inadequate additional investment in more social and affordable homes will push more people into homelessness.

"Plans to help first home owners unfortunately will not help most of the 275,000 people experiencing homelessness each year," she said.

"The budget also ignored the needs of those older people who are among the fastest-growing groups of those who are homeless."

What's not in the budget that seniors advocates have been lobbying for?

AN independent pension tribunal;

EXEMPTING employment income from the age pension income test;

MATURE-age traineeship program;

DOWNSIZING initiative to help people stay in their homes;

MORE affordable supported social housing.