Rates are a battle for pensioners
JIM Parker has been receiving the aged pension since he turned 65 and has owned the home he shares with his wife Marie at Goonellabah for 12 years.
Retirement was 15 years ago for the now 80-year-old Mr Parker and the couple have seen their residential land rates and council fees and charges increase in that time.
They have also seen increases in their pensions and currently receive about $560 each a fortnight.
Mr Parker, who serves as the vice president of the Lismore Combined Pensioners and Superannuants group, said managing finances was a challenge requiring tight budgeting for anyone on a pension.
But he said everyone's circumstances were different and the extent to which increased rates and charges could be accommodated varied.
"The affordability of local government rates and charges depends a lot on people's circumstances," he said.
"We're managing to keep up with the flow. We have an average home and average furniture, but we manage to do all right, but there are some that can't.
"Friends in houses that have gone up in value, we know their rates have increased dramatically and they are cutting down on things like going out to dinner or the movies or entertaining and socialising."
Mr Parker said the couple's land rates had increased from just under $1500 in 2010/11 to almost $1640 this financial year.
The couple's water charges have also increased by about $25 a quarter to about $260 a year, he said.
Mr Parker thinks local government should increase the benefits they provide for pensioners.
A spokesman for the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of NSW said pensions largely kept pace with land rate charges between 1994 and 2010.
But he said the State Government pensioner rebate on land rates had not increased.
"The rebate value has been lost over time because it has been stuck on $250 for at least 20 years," he said.
"We've been calling on the NSW Government to increase the rebate and set it at a percentage of rates.
"This way, as rates increase pensioners have a portion of the increase covered."
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