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Seniors Week boost for pensioners.

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Joe Hockey Minister for Human Services


Local residents of age pension or veteran pension age, receiving an income support payment, will this month benefit from a financial boost through the delivery of a Howard Government election commitment.

Announcing the imminent arrival of the Utilities Allowance into the bank accounts of older Australians, Member for North Sydney, Joe Hockey said the new allowance was promised during the election

campaign and was being delivered on time.

"Under the Utilities Allowance eligible single people will receive $100 a year and $50 per year will be paid to each member of an eligible couple. It will be paid in two installments, automatically on a person’s income support payday, falling on or immediately after 21 March and 21 September each year.

"The Howard Government values the contribution that older Australians have made and continue to make to the community and it is fitting that the payment of this new allowance coincides with Seniors Week in NSW.

"Some older Australians can experience difficulties in saving to pay regular household bills, such as gas and electricity and the Utilities Allowance will provide assistance in paying for such utilities," Mr Hockey said.

In addition to the Utilities Allowance, Pension Concession cardholders already receive a range of concessions funded by the Howard Government including:

• Pharmaceuticals listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits

Scheme (PBS) at a cheaper rate;

• Free PBS prescriptions through the PBS Safety Net, after

receiving 52 scripts in a calendar year; • Reduced out-of-hospital medical expenses, through the

Medicare Safety Net; and • Higher Private Health Insurance Rebate to 35% for people

aged 65-69 and to 40% for people aged over 70.

Mr Hockey said "The Howard Government will invest $610 million over four years towards the Utilities Allowance, building on its commitment to recognise the contribution made by older Australians"

"The strong economic management of the Howard Government has provided the opportunity to provide older Australians with the allowance that will provide significant financial assistance particularly for the larger costs such as utility costs." Mr Hockey said.

Contact: Mark Coure, 0417 255 999 or 9929 9822