Topics: Safety Net changes and indexation
LORETTA RYAN, HOST: Amanda Rishworth is the Minister for Social Services. Good morning, Minister.
AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Good morning. Great to be with you.
LORETTA RYAN: Whose payments are going up and by how much?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: We've got a range of payments increasing today as a result of indexation. We've got the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carers Payments, and we'll see a pension rate increase of $32.70 – that is for single pensioners. But we will also see a boost for job seekers, those on Student Payments, and Parenting Payment as well. For those on JobSeeker and some of the student payments there's a $40 increase to the base rate and some of those are also indexed. There'll be a $56 increase for example, for job seekers. So there's a range of increases today, but also for those getting rent assistance. There has been an increase in rent assistance both as a result of government changes and indexation. And rent assistance applies to a great many people on government payments, whether they're on the pension or on other Centrelink payments, if they're in the private rental market.
LORETTA RYAN: How do you decide on just how much they'll go up by?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: There's a number of different changes. Obviously JobSeeker was a decision to lift the base rate as well as some student payments because their payments had been a little lower over time. But, in terms of the pension, there's a number of indexation measurements that are looked at. They look at CPI, they also look at another measurement that can be about what the cost of living is. They look at male average weekly earnings with a percentage of that, and really they look, for the pension, what is the most generous and apply that indexation. For JobSeeker it's focused on CPI, so there's a range of different ways that people look at how to increase it. Part of this is about the normal indexation, but part of this is also about government decisions that have been made to increase some of these payments in addition to the indexation.
LORETTA RYAN: And what are some of the big differences people on the Aged Pension will need to know about today?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: For the age pension, not only will the amount increase, but also, as I said, for those that are getting rent assistance, that will also increase. But for those on the Age Pension other things automatically flow on. For example, if you're on a part pension because you've got some assets or you've got some income, those higher rates of where it cuts out will automatically index as well. They'll automatically go up. So, you don't have to worry that because of this increase that suddenly you'll come off the pension, because they are indexed today as well. The other thing I'd say is that the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which is not just available to those on Centrelink payments, but also available to people that might be a self-funded retiree, those thresholds have gone up as well. It's worth checking to see if you're eligible for that on the Services Australia website. Because if you're eligible for that, you get discounts in terms of energy, doctors visits, etcetera.
LORETTA RYAN: So, a few things for people to check on, a bit of extra money in the pockets of people today. Minister, thanks for talking to us.
AMANDA RISHWORTH: Thank you.