Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Indexation delivers increase to Pensions and other Income Support Payments

Almost four million Australians will receive an increase in their pensions and other income support payments and allowances from 20 September.

Indexation will deliver an increase of $15.30 a fortnight in the maximum single pension and $12.70 in the maximum partnered rate for each member of a pensioner couple.

The third instalment (now $128.50) of the increased Utilities Allowance and the Seniors Concession Allowance (now $514 per annum) will also be paid from 20 September.

With the cost of food, electricity, gas and petrol going up, it’s getting harder for people on pensions or allowances to pay the bills.

These measures will provide some assistance to pensioners who are finding it hard to make ends meet.

Adult rates of pensions, allowances and some family and supplementary payments are indexed on 20 September each year, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) percentage increase for the previous six months.

This year payments will rise in line with a 2.8 per cent increase in the CPI for the six months to June 2008. This exceeds the 25 per cent of male total average weekly earnings benchmark.

This increase will assist two million Age Pensioners, and others receiving the Wife Pension, Carer Payment, Special Benefit, Disability Support Pension and Veterans Service Pension.

A further one million people receiving payments such as Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single), Sickness Allowance, Partner Allowance, Mature Age Allowance and Widow Allowance will also receive an increase.

Other payments to increase in line with the CPI are the Maternity Immunisation Allowance, the maximum rates of Rent Assistance, Pension Bonus Scheme and certain Concessional Allowances, such as Utilities Allowance, Telephone Allowance and Seniors Concession Allowance.

These increases in income support payments will be accompanied by an increase in the income and assets cut out amounts for these entitlements.

The Rudd Government paid a $500 seniors bonus, a $1000 bonus to recipients of Carer Payment and a $600 bonus to recipients of Carer Allowance in June.

We have also started a comprehensive review into the pension system. The review will report no later than February 2009 and the Government will respond quickly.

The pension increase rate table is attached.