Budget 2019: Energy Assistance Payment

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Brief overview

The “2019 Energy Assistance Payment” is a one-off energy assistance payment which will be paid to recipients of Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Parenting Payment, AUSTUDY Payment, Double Orphan Pension, Newstart Allowance, Partner Allowance, Sickness Allowance, Special Benefit, Farm Household Allowance, Widow Allowance, Widow Pension B, Wife Pension, and Youth Allowance.

The amount of the one-off energy assistance payment is:

  • $75 for singles, and
  • $62.50 for each eligible member of a couple.

When will the one-off energy assistance payment be paid?

The majority of eligible people will be paid by 30 June 2019.

People who are in receipt of the payments listed above will be automatically paid if on 2 April 2019, they are:

  • in receipt of income support payments listed above, and
  • residing in Australia.

Analysis

While any additional financial support to people who are struggling to make ends meet is welcome, a small one-off energy assistance payment of $75 will have little impact on improving the situation of the people our members assist who are living on income support payments and struggling on a daily basis to pay for food, housing, medicines, schooling and other bills.

It is telling that the original budget announcement of the one-off Energy Assistance Payment excluded people on Newstart Allowance. These people are looking for paid work while receiving the lowest rate of payment of approximately $39 a day. This group of nearly one million Australians which were deemed undeserving of even this tokenistic one-off payment, includes, young people making the transition from study, single parents of school aged children, and older jobseekers.

Rather than spending $284.4 million over two years on a one-off payment which will do little to assist people to survive, let alone transition to work, the priority should be lifting the rate of the Newstart Allowance.

We continue to call for:

  • an urgent increase the single rates of Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments by $75 per week,
  • indexation of these payments to wages as well as the consumer price index to ensure they maintain pace with community living standards, and the cost of housing, food, and healthcare, and
  • the establishment of an independent Social Security Commission which will provide evidence-based advice to Parliament and review social security payment rates to ensure they continue to be set at an appropriate level.

 

This factsheet was prepared by the National Social Security Rights Network (NSSRN). The NSSRN is the peak community organisation in the area of income support law, policy and administration. NSSRN members are community legal centres across Australia which provide free and independent legal assistance to people experiencing issues with social security and family assistance payments.

April 2019