- Expanded free public transport for seniors, pensioners and carers
- Introduction of concession for the WA Photo ID Card
- Means-testing energy rebate for seniors
- Changes to WA Seniors Card age eligibility
With Western Australia's seniors population set to double over the next two decades, the State Government has reviewed its concessions on local government rates, electricity and water to better target those most in need in today's 2015-16 State Budget.
Seniors and Volunteering Minister Tony Simpson said with WA's population of seniors expected to increase from 458,000 now to 865,000 in 20 years, the current State Government expenditure on concessions for seniors was not sustainable in its present form.
"The Government values the contribution of seniors to WA and is committed to supporting their active participation in the community," he said.
"However, with the population of seniors continuing to grow, it is vital we ensure we can provide support to those seniors who have the greatest need."
Mr Simpson said the issue of supporting an ageing population was a significant policy challenge faced by the Australian Government and all State and Territory governments, including WA.
The Budget decisions include:
- extending free public transport for WA Seniors Card holders, pensioners and carers to include free travel after 7pm every night and before 6am each weekday morning
- means testing of the Energy Assistance Payment (Cost of Living Allowance) which provides a rebate on electricity charges from July 1, 2015
- increasing the eligible age for WA Seniors Card holders from 60 to 65 by 2023-24
- from 2016-17, a cap of $550 will be applied to the 50 per cent rebate available to pensioners for local government rates
- from 2016-17, a cap of $600 will be applied to the 50 per cent rebate available to pensioners for their water service charge
- from 2016-17, seniors can get a discount on the WA Photo ID Card for identification purposes.
"From July 1, 2015 WA Senior Card holders, pensioners and carers will have free travel after 7pm every night and before 6am each weekday morning," the Minister said.
"Allowing free off-peak travel provides seniors and carers a chance to stay involved in the community.
"We have also listened to seniors and from July 1, 2016 a concession will apply for seniors accessing a WA Photo ID Card."
This year, the only changes for WA Seniors Card holders are an increase in the eligibility age to 61 for new applicants from July 1, 2015 and changes to the Energy Assistance Payment.
Pensioners will not experience any change until 2016-17 when, subject to changes in legislation, local government rates and water rebates will be capped.
From July 1, 2015 applicants seeking a WA Seniors Card will have to be 61, rising gradually every two years to 65 years by 2023-24.
Mr Simpson said as part of the 2016-17 budget process, the Government would also consider the introduction of a downsizing grant for seniors looking to move into smaller, fit-for-purpose accommodation.
"There are seniors who are in the family home long after their offspring have left and an impediment to them downsizing is the cost of stamp duty when they purchase alternative accommodation," he said.
"We will give consideration to assisting seniors downsize to smaller, fit-for-purpose accommodation."
Treasurer Mike Nahan said WA was the only jurisdiction not to cap the current means-tested component of the 50 per cent local government rates rebate.
The average cap of all other States is $227. This rises to $287 with the inclusion of the Territories.
"Despite the small portion of GST being returned to WA, and our decision to make our support for seniors sustainable, our seniors' concessions and subsidies are still the most generous in the nation by a long shot," Dr Nahan said.
- The Government will consider the introduction of a downsizing grant for seniors towards stamp duty in the 2016-17 Budget process
- The seniors Cost of Living Rebate, to be paid between July and October 2015, will be $125.78 for a couple and $83.85 for singles for WA Seniors Card holders who have registered for it by the end of May
- The Safety and Security Rebate, which encouraged the purchase of personal safety alarms, has been discontinued
- Support for grandcarers who look after their grandchildren for long periods remains
- Comparison of local government rates rebate below
- For more information, visit http://www.ourstatebudget.wa.gov.au
Seniors and Volunteering Minister's office - 6552 6600
Treasurer's office - 6552 5700
Comparison of Local Government Rates Rebate
|State/Territory||Annual Rebate available 2014-15||Annual rebate available 2016-17|
|Western Australia||50% of rates||Up to $550 for pensioners|
|South Australia||Up to $190|||
|Victoria||Up to 50% (maximum of $208)|||
|New South Wales||Up to $250|||
|Queensland||Up to 20% (maximum of $200)|||
|Tasmania||Up to 30% (maximum of $286)|||
|ACT||Up to 50% (maximum of $675)|||
|Northern Territory||Up to $200|||