I’m sure, just like us, you waited with bated breath for budget measures that could make your life easier. We did a quick round-up of these that include:
- Increase in rent assistance payments
- More Home Care packages available
- Increase in the minimum wage for aged care workers
- Increase in the Aged Pension
- Job Seeker increase for those aged 55+
- Reduced cost of medicines and more bulk billing of medical visits
- Tax incentives for Build-to-Rent schemes to grow housing supply
- Benefits for older women who have lost their homes through divorce or separation
Key points from the Federal Budget
The Property Council of Australia‘s Retirement Living Council has outlined some key points of interest for older people, with Daniel Gannon, Executive Director of Retirement Living saying:
“The Retirement Living Council enthusiastically applauds rent relief and the care economy taking centre stage, paving the way for household relief for senior Australians living in retirement villages and land lease communities across the country.”
“The Commonwealth Government is helping more than 1.1 million Australians with the rising cost of rent by increasing the maximum rates of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 15 per cent at a cost of $2.7 billion.”
“Alongside this rent relief, the government is investing $166.8 million to provide an additional 9,500 Home Care packages to support older Australians who wish to remain at home for longer, complementing a sharp focus on Australia’s care economy.”
“It also allocates $11.3 billion to support the Fair Work Commission’s decision to provide an interim increase of 15 per cent to minimum wages for many aged care workers, meaning more than 250,000 workers will benefit from the decision.“
Retirement Living Council points relevant to older people
Aged pension and Veteran’s pension
Payments relating to Support for Seniors, which are expected to decrease by $699 million in 2023–24 and $1.6 billion over four years from 2023–24 to 2026–27, largely due to lower-than-expected Age Pension recipient numbers in 2022–23, which will have an impact on the forward estimates due to some Australians approaching retirement age choosing to delay their retirement.
The government will provide $3.7 million in 2023–24 to extend the measure to provide age and veterans pensioners a once-off credit of $4,000 to their Work Bonus income bank and temporarily increase the maximum income bank until 31 December 2023. Under this measure, pensioners can earn up to $11,800 before their pension is reduced, supporting pensioners who want to work, or work more hours, to do so without losing their pension.
The Accommodation Payment Guarantee Scheme guarantees the repayment of aged care residents’ refundable accommodation payments (including refundable deposits and accommodation bonds) if the approved provider becomes insolvent or bankrupt and defaults on its refund obligations. In return for the payment, the rights that the resident had to recover the amount from their approved provider are transferred to the Australian Government so it can pursue the approved provider for the funds.
Aged care award
This Budget continues support to improve wages and conditions for aged care workers. It provides funding to support the Fair Work Commission’s decision to provide an interim increase of 15 per cent to modern award minimum wages for many aged care workers.
Under the scheme, $81.9 million will be provided to develop and implement a new Aged Care Act and $72.3 million to support a new, stronger Aged Care Regulatory Framework.
Other initiatives included in the Budget are a $139.9 million package to improve the accountability and transparency of approved aged care providers through enhancements to the Star Rating system and $12.9 million to develop, monitor and enforce food and nutritional standards.
The government is expanding eligibility for the existing higher rate of JobSeeker to recipients 55 and over who have received the payment for nine or more continuous months. This measure currently applies to those 60 and over.
Around 52,000 eligible recipients will receive an increase in their base rate of payment of $92.10 per fortnight.
Payments will also continue to be automatically indexed to reflect changes in consumer prices.
Housing and Commonwealth Rent Assistance
The Budget increased the maximum rates of Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) by 15 per cent at a cost of $2.7 billion over five years, the largest increase to CRA in more than three decades. This change will benefit older people living in retirement villages and land lease communities who receive CRA. Around 1.1 million households receiving the maximum Commonwealth Rent Assistance rate will be better off.
In addition, the government is offering new incentives to encourage the supply of housing by:
- Reducing the withholding tax rate for eligible fund payments from managed investment trusts attributed to newly constructed build-to-rent developments from 30 to 15 per cent.
- Increasing the capital works tax deduction (depreciation) rate from 2.5 per cent to 4 per cent per year, increasing the after-tax returns for newly constructed build-to-rent developments.
From 1 July 2023, the government is expanding eligibility for the First Home Guarantee and Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee for people who have not held a property interest in Australia within the previous 10 years. This is expected to particularly benefit older women who lost their homes through divorce or separation from a partner.
Home Care Packages
To support older Australians who wish to remain at home for longer, the government is investing $166.8 million to provide an additional 9,500 home care packages.
The Budget also provides additional funding to continue to reform in-home aged care, including $15.7 million to establish a single aged care assessment system.
The government will postpone the commencement of the Support at Home Program to 1 July 2025 in response to sector feedback that a longer lead time is needed and extend grant arrangements for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme for a further 12 months to 30 June 2025.
Home care wait times are down to three months at most, according to the Department of Health and Aged Care’s latest Home Care Packages Program Data Report for the December quarter. Staff shortages continue to be a major issue.
The Budget makes a historic $5.7 billion investment to strengthen Medicare and provide patients with better access and more affordable care. It invests in additional home care packages for older Australians who wish to remain at home for longer.
The government is investing $3.5 billion to triple the bulk billing incentive for patients aged under 16 years, pensioners and other Commonwealth concession card holders. This includes all face-to-face general practice consultations more than six minutes in length and certain telehealth consultations.
A further $358.5 million is being invested in Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, including delivering eight more clinics by the end of 2023. Urgent Care Clinics will ensure patients do not have out-of-pocket costs and remain open for extended hours.
Reducing the costs of medicines
From 1 September 2023, the government will phase in increases to the maximum dispensing quantities allowed for more than 300 Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines. Some patients will be able to receive 60 days’ worth of the medicine they need for a stable, chronic health condition, rather than the current amount of 30 days’ supply.
This change will reduce the number of visits to a pharmacy and general practitioners, saving Australians time and more than $1.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs over the next four years. The government is continuing to provide Australians access to more affordable and life-changing essential medicines through the PBS and other medicines programs.
The Budget provides $2.2 billion for new and amended listings, including treatment for cystic fibrosis. This reform builds on the October Budget measure Plan for Cheaper Medicines that reduced the general patient co-payment for PBS-listed medicines from $42.50 to $30 per script from 1 January 2023.
Want to learn more about making the most of your next 30 years?
We’re committed to making life better for the over 55s so you can live life to the fullest. Check out more relevant content at downsizing.com.au. We have a great range of properties for the over 55s to help you do that with like-minded people in land lease communities, retirement villages or via our senior's flat-share service.