The ACT Budget 2016
Many older residents of the ACT will find it more difficult to make ends meet following the announcement of tougher eligibility rules for concessions and rebates in the 2016/17 budget.
Handed down on Tuesday by Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr, the budget tightens the eligibility age of ACT Seniors Card holders which will increase to 65 years from 60 years at present.
This means that from 1 July 2017, Seniors Card eligibility will increase to 61 years, then rise by one year every two years until 2025.
The budget also contained an overhaul of concessions.
From 1 July 2017, the energy and utility concession and the water and sewerage rebate will be combined into one concession.
Homeowners will see a reduction in their utilities benefit, with the $850 yearly concession to home owners cut to a maximum of $600 a year, in line with the benefit paid to renters.
As for general rates, around 3,000 households classed as ‘uncapped’, will have their rebates frozen at $700 from 1 July 2016, the same level as the highest rebate available under the ‘capped’ scheme.
Rates will also rise by 4.5 per cent from 1 July 2016 and then by 7 per cent a year from 2017/18.
Rate payers will also be levied $30 to help fund a domestic violence prevention program.
Not only will many people be faced with higher charges and lower rebates, some will also have to wait longer to access benefits, such as those attached to the Seniors Card.
This could be even more difficult if they are also faced with rates rises on their properties.
The extra charges will make it harder for many older people to make ends meet, particularly if they are on low, fixed incomes.