Pensioners overlooked in NSW Budget, says representative body

THE Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) of NSW has expressed its disappointment at last week’s State Budget, saying pensioners have been overlooked.

The CPSA represents pensioners, superannuants and low-income retirees on the North Coast and throughout NSW.

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Policy Manager Ash Fowler said it was disappointing to see a lack of targeted measures to support the health, wellbeing and social inclusion of pensioners and other Centrelink payment recipients.

“Many people are doing it tough at the moment,” Ms Fowler said.

“In a recent survey of our members, 86 percent of respondents indicated that cost-of-living pressures were a major issue for them.”

She said despite steep increases in council rates across the State, the pensioner council rate rebate remained stagnant and had not been increased since its introduction more than 30 years ago.

This left many low-income homeowners in a precarious position.

Ms Fowler said seniors in regional and rural NSW were still feeling the loss of the Regional Seniors Travel Card, which provided $250 to offset the increased cost of transport in those areas.

The discontinuation of the program had left older people struggling to access essential services and participate in their communities.

“CPSA has heard from people who are skipping meals, putting off medical treatments and missing out on seeing family and friends because there are bills to be paid,” she said.

“People shouldn’t have to make decisions like this to afford to live.”

The CPSA welcomed the announcement of increased investment in health funding across NSW, particularly the Bulk-Billing Support Initiative, which will provide tax rebates to medical practices that offer gap-free medical appointments.

However, Ms Fowler said it was unfortunate that despite record funding towards a better health system for NSW
communities, the 2024-25 NSW Budget had “once again failed to invest in the State’s beleaguered public dental system”.

She said nearly 80,000 people were waiting for assessment and treatment in public dental services across NSW.

“Oral health is essential healthcare, and everyone should have access to adequate dental care regardless of income or where they live,” Ms Fowler said.

The CPSA also welcomed the announcement of $6.6 billion to be spent on social housing, including 6200 new homes to be built over the next four years, saying the program would provide much needed relief for people experiencing housing insecurity.

“The NSW Government is finally taking responsibility for building homes rather than selling them off,” Ms Fowler said.

“After years of underinvestment in public, community and Aboriginal housing, we hope to see this trend continue.”

By Mike HELY

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