Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Boost for 2.7 Million Australians

More than 2.7 million Australians will receive increased financial support from 20 March 2008, following legislation introduced into Parliament today.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said the Government was delivering on its election commitment to help make ends meet for seniors, carers and people with disability.

“The Government understands the cost of living pressures faced by many in the community,” Ms Macklin said.

Under the legislation introduced today the Utilities Allowance would increase from $107.20 a year to $500 a year.

“The increased allowance will be paid to all current recipients and extended to all recipients of the Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Widow B Pension, Wife Pension and Bereavement Allowance,” Ms Macklin said.

“Veterans and their partners receiving the invalidity service pension, partner service pension or an income support supplement will also receive the allowance for the first time.

“The Utilities Allowance will now be paid in quarterly instalments to meet quarterly utilities bills.”

The Seniors Concession Allowance and Telephone Allowance will also increase from 20 March 2008.

The Seniors Concession Allowance will rise from $218 a year to $500 a year for around 320,000 Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and Gold Card holders, and will also be paid quarterly in line with the Utilities Allowance.

An increased rate of Telephone Allowance from $88 a year to $132 a year, will be available for around one million veterans, income support recipients of Age Pension age, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders and recipients of Carer Payment and Disability Support Pension who have a home internet connection.

Telephone Allowance recipients must give Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs details of their home internet service provider before 20 March in order to be paid the increase on time.

“All allowance increases will be paid in the fortnight starting 20 March and everyone will be paid by 3 April 2008,” Ms Macklin said.

“Paying the allowance quarterly gives them the peace of mind and certainty that they will have the funds on hand to pay their bills.”

We’re also helping them stay in touch with friends, children and grandchildren around the country and the world, via the internet. Affordable home access to the internet has the potential to connect them with a new world of communication, information and entertainment.”