Concerns and confusion over green rebates continue

It is still unclear if aged care facilities will be able to claim solar hot water and insulation rebates on a per-resident basis.

Aged care providers and the federal opposition are concerned that the Commonwealth Government’s insulation and solar hot water rebates will be of little benefit to providers.

A week after the Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot issued a press release urging providers to take up the rebates, it is still unclear if facilities will be able claim the funding on a per-resident basis.

The Opposition’s Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration, Senator Mathias Cormann said the government had to clarify its position.

“I think the government is running by the seat of their pants on this and making it up as they go along,” he said to Australian Ageing Agenda.

“There are some basic questions that haven’t been answered, such as how the funding will be distributed.”

Residential aged care homes are eligible to receive the insulation rebates under a scheme for rental households.

These rebates are available to eligible landlords and tenants, who will be able to claim up to $1,600 for installing solar water heating and $1,000 for insulation.

But the extent to which aged care residents will be considered tenants remains uncertain.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Ageing told Australian Ageing Agenda that the government has not yet completed the process for eligible nursing homes under the scheme.

“However, the rebate will not be given to the 200,000 individuals currently staying in nursing homes and hostels,” the spokesperson said.

“In the early installation phase of the program, those who own or rent independent living units such as [those in] retirement villages, are eligible for either the Homeowner Insulation Program  or the Low Emission Assistance Plan for Renters,” the spokesperson added.

The Environment Department’s hotline for the rebate scheme which was listed in Mrs Elliot’s press release was unable to provide any further clarification.

In light of the ongoing confusion, Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA) CEO Rod Young warned that the $1,600 and $1,000 payments would not provide enough incentive for residential aged care operators to invest in energy saving measures.

“At the end of the day, it looks like the scheme is of such little value that it is only marginally better than being valueless,” he said.

“We will certainly be asking the Departments of Ministers Wong and Garrett to clarify the guidelines because at this stage it appears that they are discriminating against multi-household dwellings.”

The CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Greg Mundy added that the Government must carefully consider the needs of older Australians.

“Older people who live in residential care and their families would be very disappointed if their inclusion in the insulation and solar rebate scheme turns out to be tokenistic.”

The rebate scheme is due to commence on 1 July.

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