The Federal Government has honoured its election promise to support older Australians struggling to keep up with the rising costs of living by increasing the Utilities and Seniors Concessions Allowances.

Under the new provisions, the Utility Allowance will increase from $107 to $500 a year; the Seniors Concession Allowance from $218 to $500; and the Telephone Allowance from $88 to $132.

National Seniors CEO, Michael O’Neill, welcomed the move – which will come into effect next month – as a step in the right direction.

But at the same time, he said that without an increase to the age pension for singles, many older people living alone would continue to face difficulties.

“Unfortunately, indications are single age pensioners – often elderly women who were paid less than men and had no chance of building superannuation – will continue to struggle with spiraling living costs,” said Mr O’Neill.

“Inflationary pressures hurt us all but they impact more severely on older Australians.

“Only 3.2 per cent of those currently receiving the full age pension have any additional private income, so there will be no benefit for them in the latest round of tax cuts.”

Since 2001, the price of a basket of fruit and vegetables has increased by 46 per cent but over the same period, the single age pension has only risen by 30 per cent.

“The end result is that many single age pensioners are already living below the poverty line,” said Mr O’Neill.

“That is only likely to get worse as inflation bites deeper into their already stretched budgets.”

Mr O’Neill said National Seniors will continue to campaign for an increase in the single age pension.

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