To state what we all know: living is expensive right now.
If you were struggling financially before, your situation is likely even tougher, with the costs for the basics like groceries, petrol, rent and mortgage repayments steadily increasing due to rising inflation and interest rates, the Ukraine crisis, and supply chain issues.
To help people manage the situation, the government announced a one-off cost of living payment in the 2022/23 budget, which it started dispensing from the end of April 2022. Welfare support payments also increased.
Now we’re in 2023, another indexation in welfare payments has arrived to help the 4.2 million Australians struggling to cope with cost of living pressures.
Here we explore them both in more detail and recommend another way you can financially help yourself.
The One-Off Cost of Living Payment
The government’s cost of living payment was a one-off, tax-exempt cash amount of $250 given to help Australians meet today’s cost of living pressures. It was designed to help six million people at a cost of $1.5 billion.
The cost of living payment was paid automatically to all eligible pensioners, welfare recipients, veterans and eligible concession card holders into either an income-managed account or a cashless debit card.
Eligible payments include:
- ABSTUDY Living Allowance
- Age Pension
- Career Payment
- Career Allowance, but only if you’re not getting another income support payment
- Disability Support Pension
- Double Orphan Pension
- Farm Household Allowance
- JobSeeker Payment
- Parenting Payment
- Special Benefit
- Youth Allowance for students and Australian Apprentices
- Youth Allowance for job seekers
- Eligible Department of Veterans’ Affairs payments
Eligible concession cards include:
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
- Pension Concession Card, if you’re not getting an income support payment
- DVA Gold Cards
Not Received a Cost of Living Payment?
If you’re not already getting a welfare payment or don’t yet have a concession card, you can get the cost of living payment if you were living in Australia on 29 March 2022 and either:
- You were getting an eligible payment (or were able to claim one)
- You were eligible to get, and have since had approved, a concession card.
You can also get a cost of living payment if your request was approved after 29 March, as long as it was backdated on or before. To claim your payment or concession card, head to MyGov – find out more.
Ongoing Welfare Support Payment Increases
As well as introducing and sending out the one-off $250 cost of living payment, income support payments increased by 2.1 per cent in March due to existing indexation arrangements.
As part of this, Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment rates went up by more than $20 a fortnight for a single-income household and $30 a fortnight for a dual-income household.
The intention is to increase them twice a year in line with changes in the Consumer Price Index to help shield people from the rising cost of living, and we’ve just seen another increase in September.
The September increase is larger because inflation is particularly challenging. This means, the Age and Disability Support Pensions, along with the Carer Payment, will all rise by $38.90 a fortnight for singles and $58.80 a fortnight for couples.
The Intention is There, But The Money Still Isn’t
The cost of living payment and increases in welfare support payments are certainly easing the strain a little if you’re struggling financially right now.
However, it really is only ‘a drop in the ocean’, according to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), as reported by ABC News.
As non-discretionary inflation is higher than the CPI, people are still struggling to afford to live. Again, something you already know if you’re living through it.
On top of this, the cost of living is expected to go up again this month when the temporary cut to the fuel excise tax ends.
Don’t Let Debts Get Out of Control – Act Now!
If your household budget is being increasingly stretched due to the rising cost of living – and personal debt is spiralling out of control – you need to take action yourself to make managing your day-to-day expenses easier.
The best way to do this is to get back to basics.
Look at what you have coming in and going out each much, create a budget, and figure out how you can start paying off existing debts. Importantly, make sure you give yourself some leeway to cope with further cost of living increases.
Revive’s handy online budgeting calculator can help you break down your budget in detail and understand how you can better manage your money and reduce stress.
When you feel in control, what’s going on with the economy will have less impact on your finances and your ability to live – and you’ll be able to pay the bills and put food and peace of mind on the table.
Need Help With Debts That Are Getting Out of Control?
If you’re worried your debts are growing alongside the rising cost of living, and you can’t see a way out, get in touch with the Revive team of debt solution specialists today on 1800 534 534 for professional, non-judgmental support and advice.
And for expert tax and accounting advice see Accountants Direct.