Cap whacks City of Wanneroo’s pensioners rates

THREE-quarters of pensioners in the City of Wanneroo will have to pay a higher proportion of their rates next financial year, following changes to State laws.

The State Government recently passed the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill, which will see the rebates for council rates capped at $550 from July 1, 2016 rather than at 50 per cent.

North Metropolitan MLC Ken Travers said the cap on pensioner rebates would unfairly target pensioners in the northern suburbs, with 75 per cent of all pensioner households in the City of Wanneroo affected.

Mr Travers said the Government expected the cap to affect 6288 pensioner households in the City, which was high compared to other councils.

“The equivalent figure for the City of Stirling is 2397; this is amazing considering Stirling has 95,153 ratepayers compared to 73,500 ratepayers in Wanneroo,” he said.

“Even City of Joondalup pensioners are getting hit hard; the cap will affect 2288 pensioner households.

“This is almost the same as the number of households in Stirling despite Joondalup having only 61,307 ratepayers in total.

“There is clearly something wrong with a system that hits pensioners in one area so much more than other parts of the State.”

Speaking in parliament last month, Legislative Council Leader of the Government Peter Collier said Wanneroo had a disproportionate number of pensioners who would be affected.

“The higher number of affected pensioners in the City of Wanneroo partly reflects the large geographical size and population of the local government area,” he said.

“It is estimated that 75 per cent of pensioner households in the City of Wanneroo will be affected by the introduction of the cap compared with 30 per cent for the whole State.

“Average rates paid by pension households in the City of Wanneroo – this is the interesting part – were $1124 in 2013-14 compared with the statewide average of $953.

“That means they are approximately 18 per cent higher in Wanneroo.”

The City of Wanneroo includes rubbish collection in its council rates, while other councils, including the City of Joondalup, charge that fee separately.

Mr Collier said in 2013-14, a high proportion of households in the City received rebates ranging from $550 to $700.

“A relatively high share of households in Wanneroo (will be) captured by the introduction of the $550 cap, albeit by relatively small amounts,” he said.

“Even though they are captured, they pay a small amount; while 75 per cent of pensioners are affected by the cap, approximately 59 per cent of these are affected by less than $100.

“The average impact on pensioner households in Wanneroo is $109, which is significantly below the overall impact across WA of $142.”

Mr Collier said WA and the Northern Territory were the most generous governments when it came to providing concessions for council rates and water service charges.

During the parliamentary discussion, Opposition spokeswoman for seniors Sue Ellery asked if WA Seniors Card holders who were not on pensions would still receive a 25 per cent rebate on their council rates, which Mr Collier confirmed.

Also read: Pensioners are better off, says Pearce MHR.