In a budget that’s offering personal income tax cuts and spending big on infrastructure, the federal government is also promising to do more to help older Australians work longer, become self-employed and boost their retirement incomes.
In a statement, Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash said the Australian economy is creating new jobs at record levels, but those opportunities need to be shared with older workers too.
To that end, the government has unveiled its “More Choices for a Longer Life” package, which will be funded to the tune of $189.7 million over five years, starting in the 2018—19 financial year.
The package has a number of elements:
- Additional Restart wage subsidy places for mature-age employees ($1.1 million);
- Bringing forward the national rollout of the Career Transition Assistance program to July 1, 2019. Worth $136.4 million over four years, this budget measure will offer training to workers aged 45 years and over who are registered with a jobactive provider;
- A Skills and Training Incentive ($19.3 million) to “help mature age Australians enhance their skills and explore new career opportunities”. Over three years, this program will offer funding of up to $2000 for workers aged between 45 and 70 to take up reskilling or upskilling opportunities. The government-provided funding is intended to be matched by the worker or their employer;
- A Job Change initiative, worth $15.2 million, to support mature-age workers facing retrenchment or early retirement to look at options to stay in work; and
- Expanding the Entrepreneurship Facilitators program to 20 more locations to promote self-employment among older Australians ($17.7 million).
The government has also announced it will be expanding its Pension Work Bonus, which will allow pensioners to earn an extra $1300 a year without affecting their pension payments.
Currently, pensioners can earn $250 per fortnight without forgoing part of their pension, but the government will change this threshold to $300 per fortnight.
This scheme will also be extended for the first time to self-employed Australians, who can now earn up to $300 per fortnight, or $7800 per year, without affecting their pension payments.
Meanwhile, the Pension Loans Scheme will be expanded to benefit all Australians over the Age Pension age, included self-funded retirees. It will also increase the maximum fortnightly income stream to 150% of the Age Pension rate, which means these people will be able to use equity in their homes to boost their incomes.