Relieving cost of living pressures for pensioners and income support recipients

The Albanese Labor Government is committed to responsible cost of living relief for Australians, delivering targeted support for pensioners and income support recipients.

We want to reduce disadvantage and build a strong and sustainable social safety net that provides relief to those most in need, when they need it.

Building on last year's Budget investments for those Australians relying on the social security safety net, the Albanese Government will:

  • Increase maximum rates of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by a further 10 per cent to help relieve rental pressures, building on the 15 per cent increase in September 2023 which (combined with indexation) will take maximum rates over 40 per cent higher than in May 2022.
  • Extend the higher rate of JobSeeker Payment and Energy Supplement to single recipients with an assessed partial capacity to work of 0 14 hours per week so that those with barriers to employment who have limited or no capacity to work due to their condition – but who do not qualify for Disability Support Pension - will receive an additional $54.90 a fortnight; and
  • Continue the freeze to deeming rates for a further twelve months to provide continued relief for around 876,000 income support recipients.

Rental Support

Nearly a million households will benefit from a further 10 per cent increase to maximum rates of Commonwealth Rent Assistance at a cost of $1.9 billion over five years.

Combined with our increase in last year’s Budget, this represents both the largest and the first back-to-back increases to the maximum rates of rent assistance in more than three decades.

It means that combined with indexation, maximum rates of rent assistance will have increased by more than 40 per cent since the Albanese Government was elected.

The ABS has shown that the boost to Rent Assistance in the last Budget has directly taken pressure off CPI rents.

The further increase to rent assistance will have a positive impact on vulnerable cohorts. In particular, single women, including single parents, make up around 51 per cent of Commonwealth Rent Assistance recipient households who are eligible for the maximum payment rate.

Assistance for Jobseekers

In addition, the Albanese Government will extend the higher rate of JobSeeker Payment to single recipients who have an assessed partial capacity to work of 0-14 hours per week, resulting in an additional $54.90 a fortnight.

We know those on JobSeeker Payment who have been assessed as unable to work more than 14 hours per week due to physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment experience greater barriers to returning to employment and this recognises their need for additional support.

On average, these recipients remain on payment for almost twice as long as those without a partial capacity to work and are less likely to experience the benefit of work, with only around nine per cent reporting earnings on average each fortnight.

Close to 5,000 people will move onto the higher rate of JobSeeker Payment as a result of the change, better reflecting their needs and circumstances and supporting them with their daily living costs.

Of those who will benefit, 36 per cent are women, 34 per cent live in regional and remote Australia and 14 per cent are First Nations. The cost to the Budget will be $41.2 million over five years.

These changes will commence from 20 September 2024, subject to the passage of legislation. Further indexation of JobSeeker Payment and rent assistance will also take place as usual on 20 September 2024.

Assistance for Pensioners

The Albanese Government will also be freezing social security deeming rates for a further twelve months to 30 June 2025, extending a two-year freeze put in place in July 2022.

The lower deeming rate will remain at 0.25 per cent and the upper rate will remain at 2.25 per cent until 30 June 2025.

This will ensure income support recipients will not see a reduction to their payments due to the deeming rates over the next year. It is a relatively simple step that will provide continued relief for around 876,000 people with deemed income who are receiving income support. More than half of these recipients (nearly 450,000) receive the Age Pension, around 136,000 receive JobSeeker Payment and around 96,000 receive Parenting Payment (Single).

These changes build on the Albanese Government’s income support measures from the 2023-24 Budget, including increasing the base rate of working age and student payments by $40 a fortnight, expanding access to Parenting Payment (Single) to single parents until their youngest child turns 14 and the higher rate of JobSeeker Payment to single recipients aged 55 and over who had been on the payment for nine or more continuous months and increasing Commonwealth Rent Assistance.

Since the Government was elected in May 2022, the base rate of JobSeeker Payment for single recipients without children has increased by $120 per fortnight, or 18.7 per cent, providing more than $3,100 in additional support each year.

The Albanese Labor Government believes in helping vulnerable Australians and providing a strong safety net for those who need it. We’ll continue to do that with these changes.