Budget – missed opportunity for older Australians

National Seniors Australia says the budget
announcement of 23,000 home care packages is a start but spread out over four
years barely addresses the waiting list of almost 100,000 people.

The country’s peak consumer organisation for older
Australians was also hoping for more measures to address the failures from the
aged care sector as exposed by the Royal Commission into Aged Care, Quality and
Safety.

AGED CARE

National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke says the
budget is a missed opportunity to address the home care waiting list.

“The government’s announcement of an additional 23,000
packages over four years means fewer than an extra 6,000 people a year will get
a home care package,” Mr Henschke said.

“The waiting list has been described by our very
own CEO, Professor John McCallum as a ‘running sore’ and this announcement is a
band aid which barely covers the wound.”

Mr Henschke also says the budget is disappointing
in failing to solve the systemic problems in residential aged care.

“Creating more training for aged care staff and
providers is a good start but we don’t know how many employees will benefit
from the $11.3 million announcement.”

“What we were hoping to see were more measures to
make aged care providers more accountable.”

MEASURES FOR RETIREES

While welcoming the two payments of $250 to aged
pensioners and Commonwealth Senior Health Card holders, Mr Henschke says the
pension remains too low to live on especially for those paying rent.

“In our budget submission we called for an
increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), sadly this has been ignored.

“So too was our campaign to have the Pension Loan
Scheme (PLS) interest rate of 4.5% lowered,” Mr Henschke said.

“This is a missed opportunity to help older
Australian access their home equity to help have a better life, stimulate the
economy and assist in paying for their own care.”

Acknowledging the earlier cuts to deeming rates
(used to deem what a pensioner earns on their savings), Mr Henschke expressed
disappointment that the upper deeming rate of 2.25% remains.

“All we got tonight was just a re announcement of
the earlier measures to bring down the upper rate, but no one I know is getting
a savings return of 2.25%.”

SELF-FUNDED RETIREES

Many self-funded retirees will benefit from the
two bonus payments totalling $500 if they are Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
holders and they will also continue to benefit from the halving of the
superannuation draw down rate for this financial year.

“We welcomed the reduction of the superannuation
draw down rate earlier in the year,” Mr Henschke said.

“What we’d like to see now, is the government’s
response to the Retirement Income Review which was called to address systemic
problems in the retirement income system which have now been exposed by COVID-19.”

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