New figures show seniors being hit hard by Australia’s spiralling cost-of-living

NEW figures show seniors in our communities are being hit particularly hard by Australia’s spiralling cost of living, with North Coast residents no exception.

Policy Manager with the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) of NSW, Ms Ash Fowler, said results from a CPSA December-January Cost of Living Survey underlined the issue.

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“The survey found 85 percent of respondents are having a hard time making ends meet, and 25 percent are having extreme difficulty,” Ms Fowler said.

“It also found 87 percent are stressed about finances.”

She said the responses highlighted a wide range of basic expenses that had gone up, including groceries, fuel, power bills, rents, council rates, strata fees, healthcare and insurance.

“People are worried sick and there is a great deal of anxiety about the future,” Ms Fowler said.

“Many older people are either living cheque to cheque or doing their best to stretch out what’s left of their super or savings.

“There’s no room in the budget for extras, let alone unexpected costs.

“The result is that people are making sacrifices that could have serious health consequences, like eating less nutritious food or skipping meals altogether.

“We are hearing from people who are putting off medical treatment because they can’t afford to go to the doctor.”

Ms Fowler said existing cost of living supports such as energy rebates were important, but were “a drop in the ocean”.

“We need to see more targeted supports, including increases to rent assistance and the pensioner council rate rebate,” she said.

“Programs like the axed Regional Seniors Travel Card have the potential to help older people get out into the community, spend time with family and get to medical appointments.

“Older people have worked hard for their entire lives and deserve more than the bare minimum needed to scratch by.

“Right now, a lot of pensioners and low-income retirees don’t even have that.”

National Seniors Australia Chief Executive Officer Chris Grice said consumers everywhere were feeling the pinch, but for many older Australians, being able to afford basic essentials was increasingly difficult and came at the expense of other items.

“We applaud moves to look at grocery prices and the conduct of supermarkets is one part of the solution,” Mr Grice said.

“However, government must also directly help people meet rising living costs.

He said much of the commentary on older people painted a cohort living well off rising inflation, but “pressures from rising private health insurance costs, out-of-pocket health costs, insurance, fuel and groceries are eroding most of these gains”.

By Mike HELY

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