The government cost-of-living payments everyone needs to know about
Australian governments need to do more this year to help households with the outrageous cost of living, especially energy costs which are set to rise by around 20 per cent for the second year running.
The federal government has promised an extra $1 billion in relief, to be allocated by the states, but only about half of them have revealed new payments so far.
If you're a concession card holder or a self-funded retiree, chances are there's going to be more help for you this year.
READ MORE: From supermarket shelf tricks to finding special deals: How to maximise your grocery savings
Pensions and other welfare payments will receive a half-yearly increase of 3.7 per cent on 20 March, almost keeping up with inflation.
But Wesley Mission, Foodbank, the Salvos and others are already reporting a spike in people asking for help – many of them mortgage borrowers.
- Until 24 March, Victorians can get up to $500 just for visiting their government energy comparison website
- Almost every state now has a website where you can easily check you're getting every payment you're entitled to
- Self-funded retirees with an income under $90,000 can now get a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card which opens up health discounts plus cost of living payments in NSW, SA, WA & ACT.
Here's the government relief announced so far.
- Up to $500 'power saving bonus' for households (if you're quick).
- Use the Victorian 'Savings Finder' to check what you're eligible for.
- The Victorian government has announced another round of its "$250 power saving bonus" from 24 March, which billpayers get just for visiting the government comparison website compare.energy.vic.gov.au
If you've already claimed one $250 bonus, claim another after 24 March. If you haven't claimed one yet, make sure you do so before 24 March, then claim another after that date. When I posted this one on TikTok a few weeks back, it shot to over 200,000 views in a few days and some commenters even said they've been able to claim an extra $250 after moving house: "If you moved houses between when it came out and now, you can apply earlier. Meaning I got $500 from this round and can still claim $250 on 24th."
Meanwhile, Victoria also has a range of other payments for concession cardholders:
- Annual electricity concession (17.5% of electricity usage and service costs up to annual bills of $3000, which equals up to about $500)
- Winter gas concession (17.5% of winter gas bills up to $1734, which equals about $300).
- Up to 75% off council rates
There are also a range of vouchers and discounts on registration, transport and health for eligible households.
State election promises at least $250 in extra payments. Use the NSW Savings Finder to check what you're eligible for.
The coalition government has promised to copy Victoria if re-elected on 25 March and pay $250 to those who use the government comparison website.
Labor has said it will give $250, to be matched by another $250 from the federal government, to concession card holders, Family Tax Benefit recipients and self-funded retirees with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
NSW also has the following in place already for concession cardholders, families and (unlike Victoria) also for some self-funded retirees:
- Up to $1000 in various vouchers for families.
- Energy Accounts Payment Assistance Scheme: $50 vouchers up to $1600p.a. For households experiencing a short-term financial crisis or emergency.
- Low Income Household rebate $285p.a.
- 'Energy Bill Buster': If you get the Low Income Household Rebate, you can now get a free 3kw solar system or energy efficiency upgrades worth up to $4000 by trading in 10 year's worth of rebates.
- Gas Rebate: $110p.a.
- Family Energy Rebate: $180. For recipients of the Family Tax Benefit (FTB)
- Seniors Rebate $200p.a. For self-funded retirees with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC).
The means testing for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card went up by about 50% last year, so do check if you can get it.
There are also a range of discounts on tolls, registration, transport and health for eligible households.
No change yet to $625 in payments delivered last year
Use the 'Smart Savings' concessions finder to see what you qualify for.
A $175 cost of living rebate was automatically applied to all energy bills last year and the Queensland government has not yet said whether it will do it again in 2023.
They also have these payments for concession cardholders
- Electricity Rebate ($372.20p.a.)
- Reticulated Natural Gas Rebate ($80.77p.a.)
- 20% subsidy on council rates
- Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme: up to $720 for an unforeseen emergency or a short-term financial crisis.
Over $700 in energy bill relief so far.
Visit ConcessionsSA to see what you're eligible for or call 1800 307 758.
Like NSW and WA, SA has payments for concession card holders but also for self-funded retirees with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
Like QLD, it has not yet announced any increase in payments from last year.
SA also has the following for concession cardholders, low income households and self-funded retirees:
- Energy Bill concession: Up to $241.63 p.a. for Electricity & Gas.
- Cost of Living Concession: $449 for owner-occupiers, $224.60 for renters/self-funded retirees.
- SA Concessions Energy Discount Offer – this special plan from retailer Origin Energy is available only to Concessions customers and offers 17% off electricity and 11% off gas, along with flexible payment plans and no late fees.
- Affordable SA is a one-stop-shop for information for any South Australian struggling with affordability issues. It is run by The Salvation Army with support from the Government of South Australia.
- There are also concessions for water and sewerage bills.
No news yet on $400 energy payment.
Visit the Concessions WA website to see everything you're eligible for
Last year, West Australians got $400 from the government to help with power bills and the pressure is on for WA to offer it again this year but there's no news so far.
Here's what they have in place so far for pensioners, concession card holders and self-funded retirees:
- Energy Assistance Payment: $318.37
- Dependent child rebate: $334.77 for one child and $87.72 for each additional chil
- The Air Conditioning Rebate: $68.68 per month for the cost of running an air conditioner in areas that are deemed high heat discomfort locations
- Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme: Up to $960/year for households experiencing financial hardship and at risk of disconnection.
Pensioners and concession cardholders can get the Utilities Concession ($750 last year, plus a one-off bonus of $50).
The ACT Government says it has more than 65 discounts, rebates and subsidies to help with housing, rates, utilities, transport, health and other services.
Use the ACT 'Savings Finder' to check what you're eligible for.
Tassie has an Annual electricity concession ($574.73p.a. + $119 Winter Bill Buster discount in 2022) and a Heating allowance ($56p.a.) for pensioners and concession cardholders.
The NT has one of the most generous payments with an Electricity concession (Up to $1200p.a.).
Don't forget non-government help too
Energy retailers and telcos and banks all have hardship schemes for those who are having trouble paying. If you get onto one of these schemes, you'll be less likely to get cut-off or chased by debt collectors and you might then qualify for other assistance too.
A range of charities and not-for-profits such as Foodbank, Vinnies, the Salvos and Wesley Mission give free food, financial counselling or other assistance to families in need.
Joel Gibson is the author of KILL BILLS & EASY MONEY. He's spent the last two decades hunting down money-saving tricks, hacks and loopholes and sharing them with households via his books, regular media appearances, and on TikTok, Instagram & Twitter.
The information provided on this website is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information on this website you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.
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