SACOSS today welcomes the state government’s confirmation that it will cover the cost of the Council Rate Concession no longer funded by the federal government. The concession will increase from $190 to $200 per year with payments made directly to pensioner households. In addition pensioners and low income renters will benefit with a new $100 per year payment to help offset very real cost of living pressures.
SACOSS Executive Director Ross Womersley said,
"South Australian pensioners and low income households will all welcome this initiative. It ends months of uncertainty about the future of the rates concession after the federal government cancelled concession-related funding to the states in last year’s budget.
"In fact today’s announcement sees a modest increase in the value of the concession to those households ($190 increased to $200)".
SACOSS believes the new concession also addresses an inequity that has always seemed unreasonable: the existing concession was limited to home owners while pensioners who were renting their houses were left without any assistance, despite often facing higher housing costs with lower incomes.
By extending this new concession to include $100 payment for pensioners as well as low income households who are tenants, there is support extended to those who really need it.
Mr Womersley continued,
“The council rate concession was an incredibly important support to pensioners who were doing it tough across SA. When funding for concessions was removed in the last Federal Budget, SACOSS joined with the state government and the Local Government Association (LGA) in calling for its reinstatement.
"We have always argued that first and foremost the federal government should reinstate its funding and that if it does not, the South Australian government must fill the void.
“This week’s Federal Budget did not reinstate the concessions funding, so we are delighted the Weatherill government has stepped in so quickly to assure people, and moreover to provide additional support to households really feeling the pinch in rental accommodation.
“We still believe there are real opportunities to streamline our concessions system and we will work with the government to achieve this.
"Concessions are a key mechanism for addressing disadvantage, but we also need to consider them in the context of taxation reform and in the discussions about the roles of different levels of government that comes with the review of federalism. We look forward to progressing these agendas during the year".
SACOSS thanks and congratulates the LGA, local councillors, community members and parliamentarians from all parties who, like SACOSS and COTA SA, have campaigned strongly to ensure the Council Rates Concession was preserved.
The new concession will provide the following support to households:
- $200 to pensioners and low-income earners who own their own home
- $100 to pensioners and low-income earners who are tenants
- $100 for self-funded retirees who hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
SACOSS’ quarterly Cost of Living Update will be released next week.