Budget offers no clarity of Govt vision for aged care: providers

IRT Group CEO, Nieve Murray, says the few measures included in Budget 2017 simply aren’t enough to make a difference and more needs to be done to ease the cost of living for Australian pensioners.

“The increasing cost of housing, energy and care is making the cost of living unaffordable for people who rely solely on the age pension,” Ms Murray said.

“The facts are fewer pensioners own their home, more pensioners are retiring with a mortgage or renting in their old age and pensioners who rent spend more of their income on housing than first-home buyers.”

“There’s a national shortfall of affordable rental accommodation, by over 500,000 dwellings and more older people are becoming homeless — about 15,000 people over the age of 55 are sleeping rough on any given night, including 2000 over the age of 75.”

“The incentive for over 65s to downsize and top up their super is welcome, but unless we increase the supply of affordable age-friendly housing, there’ll be nowhere for them to downsize too.”

“The Retirement Living Council has warned the Federal and State Governments that the current supply of seniors housing will not meet demand by 2025. The incentive announced last night will increase demand, so we now need to work on the supply side.”

“In regards to affordable rental accommodation, increased investment in the ‘bond aggregator’ model will help community housing providers access government loans at a long-term lower rate, but it won’t address the shortfall.”

Ms Murray said the despite funding the cost of caring for ageing Australians being one of the biggest fiscal challenges ahead, there were no new measures announced in Budget 2017.

She also noted the absence of any funding for the roadmap implementation.

“We call on the Government to stop ignoring the critical issue of funding aged care, and work with providers to reform our sector in a way that’s responsible, sustainable and will deliver the best outcomes for older Australians,” Ms Murray said.

Benetas’ acting CEO, Ellen Flint has echoed Ms Murray’s sentiments, saying the industry is no clearer on the Government’s vision for aged care following the post Budget analysis.

“We’re grateful no further cuts have been made to aged care. But we need to look beyond this,” Ms Flint said.

“It’s wonderful the Government has closed the funding gap for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and there’s no reason why we can’t do this for older Australians.”

“We know the Federal Government can deliver evidence-based, innovative funding solutions, we’ve seen it with the NDIS and in agreements made with the pharmaceutical industry.”

“We now call on the Government to provide a positive and coherent vision for aged care, which by necessity must include a sustainable funding strategy to ensure stability for providers and affordable, quality aged care for consumers,” Ms Flint said.

UnitingCare Australia’s National Director Claerwen Little was also clearly underwhelmed, saying despite some constructive measures the 2017 Federal Budget needed to do more for the most vulnerable Australians.


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