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NSW Budget: Regional Seniors Travel Card Axed, Energy Rebates Increased, and Commitment to Social Housing

NSW Budget: Regional Seniors Travel Card Axed, Energy Rebates Increased, and Commitment to Social Housing

The NSW Budget for the year 2023-2024 has brought both good news and disappointments for seniors and low-income individuals in the region. While the Regional Seniors Travel Card has been axed, there have been increases in energy rebates, and a commitment to providing more social housing.

Regional Seniors Travel Card Axed

The Regional Seniors Travel Card, which had already suspended new applications since July, has been officially discontinued. The budget papers reveal that it was allocated a budget of $36 million for the upcoming financial year, which is not enough to sustain its operations. The card had cost $102 million in 2022-2023 and $98 million in its first year.

The card’s suspension was due to misuse, with some using it for purchases unrelated to transport, such as tobacco and gambling products. While the card is currently under review, there are concerns that it may not return. This is a blow to seniors in regional, rural, and remote areas who relied on the card to stay connected.

Man using a credit card

Energy Rebates Increased

On a positive note, the NSW Government has increased energy rebates for low-income households and seniors. The Low-Income Household Rebate and Medical Energy Rebate will be raised from $285 to $350. Self-funded retirees will receive a higher Seniors Energy Rebate of $250 instead of $200. The Life Support Energy Rebate has also seen a significant boost from $1,343 to $1,639.

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It remains unclear whether eligible customers in places with private “embedded” energy networks will receive a similar increase.

Solar panels

Commitment to Social Housing

Addressing the ongoing issue of housing insecurity, the NSW Government has committed to providing an additional 1,500 social housing dwellings under the $610 million Commonwealth Social Housing Accelerator program. While this number falls short of the 25,000 social homes estimated to be needed, it is an improvement compared to previous years.

The decline in homeownership among older people and the undersupply of social housing have led to rising rates of homelessness, particularly among older women. Advocacy organizations like CPSA are calling for a resolution to the housing crisis in NSW and the construction of more social and affordable housing. Lowering the eligibility age for the social housing priority list from 80 to 65 would also be beneficial.

Social housing

FAQs

Q: Will the Regional Seniors Travel Card be reinstated in the future?
A: While there is no official confirmation, there is optimism that the card may return in the 2024-2025 budget.

Q: Who will benefit from the increased energy rebates?
A: Low-income households, self-funded retirees, and individuals relying on life support equipment will benefit from the increased energy rebates.

Q: How will the commitment to social housing help alleviate the housing crisis?
A: The provision of 1,500 additional social housing dwellings is a step towards resolving the shortage, but more construction is needed to address the growing demand.

Conclusion

The NSW Budget brings mixed news for seniors and low-income individuals. The axing of the Regional Seniors Travel Card is a setback, while the increase in energy rebates and commitment to social housing offer some relief. It is crucial for the government to address the housing crisis and provide affordable housing solutions for vulnerable populations.

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For more information on the NSW Budget and its impact on seniors and low-income individuals, visit the official iBlog website.

Note: This article is based on the original text from CPSA and has been rewritten to suit the iBlog brand.

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