Statewide Mornings, ABC 936 Hobart
*** E & OE – Proof only ***
Subject: Payments to carers and pensioners; increase in Baby Bonus
LOUISE SAUNDERS: The Minister for Families is Jenny Macklin. Good afternoon, good morning rather, to you.
JENNY MACKLIN: Good morning Louise.
LOUISE SAUNDERS: For people who may be receiving some of the payments through Centrelink, what are some of the key changes from today?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well there’s some good news for carers. So anyone listening who’s on the Carer Allowance or the Carer Payment, and some people are on both, they will receive the annual carer supplement in this fortnight starting from today. That’s worth $600. If you’re on both the Carer Allowance and the Carer Payment you’ll in fact get double, so you’ll receive $1200. That’s for, it’s a $600 payment for each person that you’re caring for.
LOUISE SAUNDERS: Okay, I won’t presuppose a glitch but there’s bound to be one. At what point…..
JENNY MACKLIN: Please don’t say that.
LOUISE SAUNDERS: At what point should people be concerned if they haven’t got the money, give it a few days?
JENNY MACKLIN: I certainly hope there won’t be a glitch because it’s the second time that we’ve paid it. So if people though, don’t get it in the next fortnight they should contact Centrelink. But there are 500,000 carers we expect this money to go to.
LOUISE SAUNDERS: Now the assessment process has also changed has it?
JENNY MACKLIN: For pensioners there are some changes as well. Maybe if I just outline those because there are 3.3 million pensioners who’ll have some beneficial changes from today. We’re changing the way that people can use their pension supplement. People get paid at base pension and then a pension supplement on top of that. That’s, at the moment, paid fortnightly with their normal pension. We’re saying to people if they’d like to, so it’s entirely a choice for them, if they’d like to get some of that pension supplement paid quarterly they can choose to do so. And the reason that pensioners have indicated to us they would like that choice, is so that they can have money in their account so that they can pay their regular bills, like their electricity or their gas bill. So that’s one change. Another change that’s starting from today is that pensioners will have access to more flexible advance payment arrangements. At the moment you can get $500 if you need access to a lump sum, say you need new tyres on your car or you need a new fridge. We’re increasing that to a maximum amount of $1000 if you’re a single, different numbers if you’re a couple, and that’s available in a six month period. You can take a smaller amount if you want to but we have really heard from pensioners that we needed to expand this advance payment so that we give more flexibility to pensioners who need those lump sums.
LOUISE SAUNDERS: And that’s an optional though?
JENNY MACKLIN: That’s entirely optional. Of course you have to pay it back but nevertheless it does help pensioners faced with unexpected bills.
LOUISE SAUNDERS: Is there a flexibility in how much you, how quickly or how you pay it back?
JENNY MACKLIN: Yes, that’s something that you can work out with Centrelink.
LOUISE SAUNDERS: Okay, and in terms of other Centrelink payments and declarations and so on, is there much else that is different to this new financial year?
JENNY MACKLIN: There are always many things that change on 1 July. The other big change that’s happening is indexation to a range of payments. So probably the most significant one of those is the Baby Bonus. So from today, so if you have a baby born today, the Baby Bonus is going up by just over a $100. It’s paid in thirteen fortnightly instalments but in total the new Baby Bonus will be worth $5,294 and the other Family Tax benefits are also indexed from today to keep up with the cost of living. One final one Louise just to mention another change that’s happening to Family Tax Benefit Part A. We did announce this earlier in the year but it takes effect from today for existing Family Tax Benefit customers. If you’ve got children or a young person aged between 16 and 20 in your care, you’re now going to need to make sure that that young person is enrolled in full-time education or training to receive Family Tax Benefit Part A. It’s really part of the Government’s push to do everything we can to make sure that young people are doing everything they can do for themselves to get a decent education and a good job.
LOUISE SAUNDERS: Okay, and if you do need to get further advice of course, speak to Centrelink about your own personal circumstances is the best way to go isn’t it?
JENNY MACKLIN: That’s exactly right. Centrelink’s the most important place to go. We’ve also made some changes to make some processes simpler for those who are on the Carer Payment and also those working with the Child Support Agency. So if people are looking for some improved paperwork, some changes have just gone through the Senate last week to help those families.
LOUISE SAUNDERS: Okay, Jenny Macklin good to talk to you, thanks for your time.
JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you Louise.