The 2018-19 Budget which was released on May 8 is promising greater funding and a stronger focus on the growing population of ageing Australians. An extra $5 billion worth of funding into aged care is expected to create more Home Care Packages (HCPs), elevate pension bonuses and deliver a significant boost to aged care services in rural and regional areas. Take a look below at what ageing Australians will soon receive under the 2018-19 Budget.
More Home Care Packages
In a response to year-long national waiting lists for Home Care Packages, the latest Budget has promised to increase the number of home care places by 14,000 over the next four years.
Treasurer Scott Morrison spoke on Budget night, guaranteeing older Australians financial support: “We want to preserve and increase the choices of older Australians [and] support the choice of older Australians who wish to stay at home and avoid going into residential aged care”.
Releasing more Home Care Packages indicates the Government is well aware of ageing Australians growing desire to have choice, control and independence as they start to require support. Additional HCPs promises relief for the 104,000 Australians currently on the national waiting list, meaning thousands of Australians can start living independently sooner.
“By 2021-22, over 74,000 high level home care places will be available, an increase of 86 per cent on 2017-18.”
The $1.6 billion boost to HCPs is expected to provide high-level support to allow older Australians to remain living in their homes and receive a variety of support through services like Better Caring. An additional 13,500 residential care places and 775 short-term care places will be available to ageing Australians.
Higher income for working pensioners
The Pension Loans Scheme will be expanded so those who currently receive the pension and own a home can receive extra payments, with the maximum being pushed up to 1.5 times the full pension rate.
The Government is also encouraging pensioners to be financially secure and confident by allowing them to earn more. Pensioners can earn an extra $1,300 a year without having their pension payments reduced under the new Pension Work Bonus. For the first time, this bonus will be opened up to self-employed workers such as those working on the Better Caring platform.
“The Pension Loans Scheme will be opened to all older Australians, including full rate pensioners and self-funded retirees, so they can boost their retirement income by up to $17,800 for a couple, without impacting on their eligibility for the pension.”
More funding for regional health services
Regional and rural areas will soon have stronger health services and more qualified doctors. The Government also promises to improve public hospitals across the country with a $30.2 billion boost which will contribute to a record $130.2 billion boost between 2020 and 2025.
Mental health services such as Lifeline Australia will also receive a $33 million boost as part of the Government’s $338 million mission to combat mental health problems faced by older Australians.
What does all this mean for ageing Australians?
With a total of $5 billion being spent on aged care over the next four years, this year’s budget is allowing thousands of ageing Australians to receive support at home and remain living independently. As our ageing population expands, in-home support is becoming an affordable, comfortable, safe and convenient option for many and with more HCPs, improved regional health services and updated pension schemes on the way, home care is being made available across the country.
With every new budget, there are obvious winners and losers, and this year’s budget has ensured that ageing Australians are winners.
If you’re waiting for a Home Care Package and the Budget has got you thinking about in-home support, sign up to Better Caring and start searching for independent support workers in your local area here.