A DRAFT policy for increased pensioner subsidies will be formed by the City of Bayswater despite some councillors believing local governments should not “supplement Centrelink”.
At the January 24 committee meeting, the council voted 6-3 for a draft policy to be applied on July 1, with councillors Chris Cornish, Giorgia Johnson and Elli Petersen-Pik voting against it.
Officers had recommended the council to not increase pensioner subsidies above the general rates of up to 50 per cent of local government rates.
This rebate for WA Pension Concession Card is limited to a cap of $750, while WA Seniors Card holders can receive a 25 per cent rebate capped at $100 for the 2017-18 rating year.
The City has 4523 pensioners and 1378 seniors.
According to an officer’s report, the estimated cost of providing a 5 per cent subsidy to pensioners and seniors would be 2018-19 is $329,618 and there would be a reduction in services or projects and higher rates.
Cr Filomena Piffaretti said pensioners needed the subsidy and savings could be found in other “wasteful” council programs and projects.
“Previously, when they weren’t pensioners they could have been homeless, single parents or unemployed. They could have already gone through all those hardships prior to being pensioners,” she said.
Cr Brent Fleeton said his ideal scenario was to compromise at a 10 per cent increase but the council could debate the potential increase at a further stage.
“Ten per cent might not be a lot but it might be a water bill or towards healthcare or transportation,” he said.
“We can also decide to not put in discretionary spending in future budgets necessary.”
Cr Petersen-Pik said while he wanted to help pensioners, it was not the responsibility of a local government to supplement Centrelink.
“I think that councillors that think they should get more assistance should lobby the Federal or State government for that,” he said.
“I don’t think it is our role as local government to do more in this area because we are not helping other groups in our community.”
Cr Cornish said he disagreed that the council should “cherry pick” and fill the bridge of Centrelink and the State Government for a certain segment of population.