The government of Australia has released its federal budget for 2018/19, with older Australians set to benefit from a raft of new policies, including 14,000 new home care packages and improved funding for mental health care in residential aged-care facilities.
There are two measures that will directly affect those who work: increase of the work pension bonus and the subsidisation of wages for older workers.
Bonus for working pensioners
In Australia, pensioners face reductions to their pensions if they work. But in his budget speech on Tuesday the treasurer, Scott Morrison announced amendments to the current regime so that older Australians can work more hours without having their pension payments cut. The government will increase the work pension bonus from $250 to $300 a fortnight, allowing pensioners to earn up to $7,800 a year without impacting their pension. This policy will cost $227.4m.
The Treasurer said this would mean pensioners could earn an extra $1,300 without affecting their payments.
There was also a further announcement of expanded access to the pension loans scheme so that older Australians can boost their income by drawing down equity from their homes.
Subsidising the wages of older workers
The government will provide wage subsidies of up to $10,000 for employers who take on older Australians.
According to the government, the subsidies would be provided through the existing “employment fund”. This is $300m pool that job service providers allocate to jobseekers to improve their employability.
The subsidy will incentivise the employment of more than just older Australians. The rules of the employment fund will be changed to so that employers hiring other disadvantaged groups including the long-term unemployed, parents, people aged 25 to 29 and Indigenous jobseekers will also benefit.
Treasurer Scott Morrison says the new subsidy will “combat age discrimination in the workforce”. Arguably, it could actually lead to it. If employers are financially incentivised towards hiring older workers to the detriment of younger workers then age discrimination has not been eliminated. It is simply now being suffered by a different demographic.
Other measures announced in the budget include training to help jobseekers 45 years and older develop digital and other skills and grants of up to $2,000 for workers aged 45 to 70 to undertake re-skilling.