BIG HIT: Norma Caton said the cut to her pension will significantly change her spending.
BIG HIT: Norma Caton said the cut to her pension will significantly change her spending. Molly Glassey

Warwick pensioners feel punch not pinch

DISCOUNTED groceries, rationed holidays and charity food hampers are the new way of life for one elderly Warwick resident about to lose a "considerable amount” of her aged pension.

Norma Caton is one of 330,000 Age Pensioners in Australia who will have their Age Pension entitlements cut in the next 24 hours.

"It came as a shock,” she said.

"I just received a letter, and I won't tell you what I said or how much it is that has been taken out of my pension.

"But it was a significant amount, and it changes the way I have to spend my money now.”

Under new rules, pensioners with assets worth more than the new thresholds will lose $3 of their payments for every $1000 over, up from $1.50, and it's something that could effect 20% of the Southern Downs' population.

Mrs Caton said she began to key into the changes when she received a phone call from Centrelink saying the value of her house had been increased by $60,000.

"That didn't worry me, even though it did drop the pension a bit,” she said.

"But then with the new program, it put me into the next (threshold) and as of (tomorrow) they will be taking $3 out of every $1000.

"The little bit I had invested, I'm having to use that now.

"Why should I have to do that?”

She said she could only make about $50 a month through her hobbies, but even that combined with her slashed pension and investments was going to put a strain on her spending.

"If I go to the shops, I buy marked down groceries,” she said.

"I have to use the money I had invested to pay my bills.

"I like to go up to Caloundra once every few months for little holidays.

"I don't know when I'll be able to do that next, because of the cost of fuel.”

Mrs Caton said she was fortunate to have lived a life where money was something to be saved, having raised five children on one wage.

"If I didn't have this little bit invested, I don't know what I would have done,” she said.

"I've been good at keeping my head above water but it seems to be getting worse and worse.”

Doug, who did not wish his name to be printed, said he and his wife would lose a combined $200 a fortnight under the changes.

While he said the reduction was manageable, he felt for others who were in worse situations.

"We will watch more carefully, because it means we might have to liquidate our assets,” he said.

"We're on a part-pension already, but we'll have to draw more on our capital.

"I feel so sorry for those who can't pay their power, phone or internet, and they're getting stung by this."

A Department of Human Services spokeswoman said the people not affected by the changes would not receive any letters from the government.



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