ON Tuesday 17 November, the NSW Government released their 2020-21 budget.
Here are the most important takeaways for pensioners and retirees living in NSW.
CPSA is pleased about the commitment the NSW Government has made to social housing maintenance. Let’s hope that the funds attributed to maintaining social housing properties will be sufficient to avoid a future backlog of maintenance services.
The NSW Government’s commitment to the construction of social housing is disappointing. The latest commitment to developing social housing will deliver 1,300 new houses and apartments across NSW. This is a drop in the ocean considering there were more than 50,000 households on the NSW social housing waitlist as of June 2019.
CPSA was disappointed that the social housing priority age will not be lowered. Currently, to be considered a priority for social housing based on age, an applicant must be 80 years or older. As older people, particularly older women, struggle in the private rental market, the age for priority social housing should be lowered to 55 years. The Victorian priority age for social housing is 55, it should be the same for NSW.
The Out and About voucher program will provide all NSW adults with four $25 digital vouchers to spend on food and entertainment. This is good news for people who have access to a mobile digital device. If this program does not provide an alternative offline version, then many older people will miss out because they can’t afford a smart phone or they find them too complicated to use. CPSA will be making representations.
CPSA is concerned about how stamp duty reform would affect older homeowners on low-fixed incomes. While the proposal is for homeowners who have paid stamp duty on their current house to be exempt from paying a new property tax, the concern is that if older homeowners on low-fixed incomes downsize, they will find it difficult to pay a property tax.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated. An earlier version referred to an item on the Budget papers, which allocated “$175.2 million over three years for the Regional Seniors Travel Card program”. The Card was rolled out earlier this year as “a two-year trial program”. The Budget papers seemed to suggest that the Government was adding another year to the program. On inquiry, this was confirmed by NSW Treasury, but this confirmation has turned out to be incorrect. Transport for NSW advises that there will not be an additional year. Cards are valid for fourteen months from the date of issue, which means that two cards combined are valid for twenty-eight months.