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Delivering equity: A new deal for women pensioners who rent

A new deal for women pensioners who rent

KPMG's report makes public policy suggestions to support an especially disadvantaged group in which women are over‑represented — those over 50 years of age who are renting privately. Many of these women have experienced disadvantage through their working‑age years, leading to financial hardship in retirement, including having to pay rent through not owning their own homes.

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Three women from three generations

Australians who are over or approaching pension age and are receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) face difficult circumstances and limited financial opportunities.

Mostly, those who are facing these challenges are women. They have to deal with high living expenses, uncertain tenure of accommodation, and the legacy of social norms that restricted their capacity for financial independence.

The fact is that these women will retire with very few assets, and will consequently remain in a position of financial insecurity for the rest of their lives.

Due to the gender pay, income and superannuation gaps, compounded by the unpaid caring work completed throughout their lifetimes, female pensioners will have little to show financially for their hard work. Once retired, these women will remain on fixed incomes while dealing with the challenges of renting. If they live in capital cities, their rental expenses will be high, and will be subjected to the vagaries of the housing market.

KPMG's report, Delivering equity: A new deal for pensioners who rent, is the third in a series on discrimination against women.

It proposes policy changes to help ameliorate the long-run effects of gender disadvantage by addressing the risks and challenges facing the mostly-female group of older, single Australians who receive the CRA who have missed out on the opportunity to build up the assets needed to support them in retirement.

The proposals made in the report include changes to the income support and superannuation systems to help address these issues, and help provide a more dignified, secure retirement for this cohort.

The policy ideas to improve the position of women age pensioners renting privately include:

  1. increasing the maximum rate of CRA
  2. enabling certain pensioners who receive the CRA to build an equity stake in their home as a means of building up their assets and financial security
  3. bolstering the superannuation balances of working women to better provide for their retirement and help reduce the gender superannuation gap.

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