Providing relief from the rising cost of living was a key focus of the Federal Budget, handed down earlier this month. Across the country, everyday Australians are pulling back spending and making savings however they can, to ease some of the pressure.
So, who will benefit most from the Budget? And how much is cost of living relief being prioritised for the coming year, and in what areas? Let’s explore some of the major Budget takeaways.
What were the highlights of the Budget?
The Federal Budget announcements provides some relief for those most in need.
At a top level, the budget hit a surplus this year for the first time in 15 years. Forward estimates are indicating the positive trend is set to continue. That’s generally good news for everyone: the nation’s finances are in a solid position to drive more investment and provide a buffer for hard times.
What’s more, the WA budget, released in the same week as the Federal Budget, has also revealed a $4.2bn dollar surplus, including a $715 million cost of living package. Read on to find out what that means for us in the West.
Cost of Living relief
The Federal Budget will provide some much-needed relief for those struggling most. People on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Austudy will receive an additional $40 per fortnight. More older Australians without a job will become eligible for higher JobSeeker payments (from 55 years old, rather than 60). Single parents will receive support until their youngest child turns 14 (up from 8) and Rent Assistance will increase by $31 per fortnight for low-income earners.
Up to 11.6 million people (Australia wide) will be able to access cheaper GP visits, through increased bulk billing subsidies for GPs. The bulk billing incentive for GPs is tripling for those under 16, pensioners and concession card holders, hopefully resulting in cheaper (or free) GP visits, especially for those in rural areas.
Pensioners and Concession card Holders will also get support paying their energy bills and rent as part of a $14.6bn cost of living package.
With energy prices increasing exponentially across the east coast and price increases here in WA, this relief could not have come quicker for those already struggling to pay their bills.
Energy bill support
Included in the $14.6bn cost of living package are energy credit payments – set to help reduce the shock of increasing winter electricity bills.
Households and eligible businesses will receive additional support to pay their energy bills. This varies from state to state, depending on the price pressures. West Australians on income support will receive $350 as part of the National Energy Bill Relief Offset, payable over two instalments.
WA Energy Credit
All West Australians will receive a minimum $400 Household Electricity Credit boost to help relive cost of living pressure. The credit will be applied to all Western Australian households, split over two equal payments in the July/August and November/December billing cycles.
These energy credits are welcome support for those already struggling to pay their power bill, however as we have seen in previous years, they often coincide with an increase in electricity prices.
Synergy will be increasing electricity prices by 2.5% from 1 July 2023. There will also be increases to other fees and charges. This will increase the power bill of an average household by over $50 a year; far more if your bills are above the average.
One of the savviest ways to use the WA energy credit is to combine it with a new solar + battery solution from Plico. At a minimum, this would mean over 11 weeks free with Plico. Our members told us that the $400 energy credit applied in July last year kept their bills in credit for months – and some are still in credit eleven months later. Perhaps even more powerful is the knowledge that this system will protect you from future energy pricing increases by giving you access to your own power via your battery. You win now, and it’s an investment in future savings.
Small businesses in WA will receive up to $650 in energy bill relief, and there’s going to be support for households to invest in energy upgrades for their home, such as double glazing. While details of this program are yet to be revealed, it’s another step in the right direction to help homeowners and renovators make their homes more energy efficient. The government has committed several major investments towards growing the economy, including through renewables and supporting relevant industries.
The worst of inflation seems to be behind us, yet the budget is expected to fall back into a deficit for the next three years. What’s more, the increases in wages are still being outpaced by cost of living increases (predicted until next year).
Off the back of yet another interest rate rise and falling sales across the retail market, experts are warning that we may be heading towards a recession... a consumer recession, at least. Following two consecutive dips in the December 2022 quarter and again in the March 2023 quarter, it appears as though the consumer recession has arrived. But that’s far less concerning than an economic recession, and there is no guarantee that this is where the current economic pressure will lead to.
In fact, many experts predict Australia won’t go into a recession and that much brighter economic times are ahead.
If you’re currently feeling the pinch of increased cost of living, we’ve got some blog articles with everyday tips to help you out. There may be some simple ways to reduce your spending, or smart investments that will save you money. Solar is a great example of a smarter way to spend your money, by investing for savings now and into the future. Plico’s weekly fee is family budget-friendly, by providing consistency in your weekly fees and reliability in your power supply.
With cost of living prominent in the minds of many West Australians, it was reassuring to see this being addressed in both the Federal and State budgets. But while every bit of support helps, West Australian households are still feeling the pinch of sky-high inflation. The silver lining is that relief is in sight, with brighter days ahead.
In the meantime, West Aussies need all the support they can get. One such support is by installing your own solar + battery solution, providing you with access to your own power during nighttimes and blackouts, visibility over your power usage through our user-friendly app, and one low weekly fee. Savvy Plico members are bringing down their power bills even further by monitoring trends in their household and switching their electricity usage to make the most of their battery power.
Start saving now - and set yourself up for further savings in the future - by arranging an obligation-free chat with one of our experts as soon as possible.
Book in your obligation-free call today. You can view our different solar + battery systems by clicking here or calculate your projected savings with our Solar Savings Calculator. You can also get in touch with one of our switched-on team members by calling 1300 175 426 to see how a solar + battery system can help you save.