National Seniors Australia is urging the Federal Government to rethink its downsizing policy for seniors.
National Seniors Australia is urging the Federal Government to rethink its downsizing policy for seniors. ThinkStock

'Too narrow': Government urged to rethink downsizing policy

THE Federal Government has been urged to rethink its downsizing policy for seniors after it was labelled "too narrow" by the National Seniors Australia.

The Turnbull Government introduced legislation last year that allowed Australians aged 65 and over to sell their homes and divert up to $300,000 per person into superannuation.

But National Seniors chief advocate Ian Henschke said the policy, which comes into effect on July 1, wasn't broad enough to win the favour of seniors unlike his organisation's 'Rightsizing Program'.

"The government's initiative is too narrow," Mr Henschke said. "We're not saying it should be abandoned. But our Rightsizing proposal would benefit more seniors and for this reason, we've included it again in this year's Budget submission.

"It would enable up to $250,000 of the proceeds from a home sale to be quarantined from the Age Pension means test.

"Older Australians could move to more age-appropriate and suitable housing without losing their pension, and have funds to cover health and other costs in their old age.

"Many live in housing that is inappropriate for their needs, for example with stairs and unsuitable bathrooms. This increases the risk of injury and hospitalisation. It can also bring on early entry into residential aged care."

And Mr Henschke said he had the numbers to back up claims that 'Rightsizing' is, well, the right size for seniors.

A National Seniors survey showed that 82 percent of far more older retirees favoured the organisation's proposal.

"If (seniors) could sell without losing their pension, there's no doubt many would," Mr Henschke said.

"This would free up homes for families and promote the construction of purpose-built homes for older

"We're urging all political parties to back a Rightsizing initiative to help ensure older Australians can find the type of housing they need in the communities they know and want to live in.

"At the same time, we believe the Government's initiative that will come into effect on 1 July should be maintained."