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Some Australians could keep up to $1300 they would otherwise lose after Prime Minister Scott Morrison moved to freeze the deeming rate for social security recipients.
The Federal government moved on Wednesday to stop deeming rates from rising. Deeming rates are the rules used to work out the income pensioners make from assets such as shares or investments, which affects Centrelink’s pension payments.
The freeze, coming in the wake of the first interest rate rise in a decade, is expected to apply to 885,000 people, with the lower deeming rate set to remain at 0.25 per cent, while the upper deeming rate will stay at 2.25 per cent. The rates generally tend to creep up.
According to the government, the freeze means some seniors could keep up to $1300 a year that they would otherwise lose.
The prime minister (pictured) has moved to freeze the deeming rate for almost 900,000 social security recipients in the wake of the central bank raising interest rates
It comes after the Reserve Bank of Australia raised the official cash interest rate from a historic low of 0.1 per cent to 0.35 per cent – the first time rise since 2010 – ahead of the May 21 federal election.
Mr Morrison expressed sympathy with mortgage holders facing increased monthly repayments as a result.
The opposition pounced, with Labor leader Anthony Albanese saying it will make it harder for millions of Australians to make ends meet.
Mr Morrison said the freeze on deeming rates for social security payments would ensure people could deal with rising costs.
‘This is another shield to help protect Australians from the cost of living pressures people could feel from an increase in interest rates,’ he said.
‘We will guarantee the rate of income for people who could otherwise see their social security income drop because of the increase in interest rates.’
However, RBA governor Philip Lowe warned of further rate hikes in the coming months.
‘It’s not unreasonable to expect the normalisation of interest rates over the period could see them rise to 2.5 per cent,’ he said.
‘How fast we will get there will be determined by events.’
Asked what difference it would make whichever party was in government, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government doesn’t understand the pressure people are under.
According to the federal government, it means some seniors could keep up to $1300 a year that they would otherwise lose
‘We think the difference between Labor and the government is that the government is trying to wash their hands of this challenge … they don’t understand the pressure,’ he told Nine Network on Wednesday.
‘We do … Growing the economy without adding to inflation, getting real wages moving again, trying to have something to show from this (government’s) budget, which is heaving with a trillion dollars in debt.’
Mr Morrison will start campaigning in Melbourne on Wednesday while Mr Albanese will begin in Sydney.
Economic management will be firmly in the spotlight during a treasury portfolio debate on Wednesday.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will square off against Mr Chalmers at the National Press Club.