Decade of poverty predicted

RAISING the retirement age could force many Tasmanians into a decade of poverty, according to the state's peak welfare group.

Tasmanian Council of Social Service chief executive Tony Reidy said speculation that the federal government could raise the age of retirement to 70 as early as 2029 was ``very concerning''. 

Mr Reidy said he had serious concerns about what impact the federal government's Commission of Audit  and welfare review might  have on Tasmania, such as slashing funding for community services.

``TasCOSS would deplore the federal government retreating further from social services and support,'' Mr Reidy said.

``We have the highest unemployment in the country - it's already very difficult for people to find work.'' 

Mr Reidy said the most disadvantaged job seekers in the state were those aged between 55 and 65, and raising the retirement age would put a heavier burden on them.

``It could place many people into a decade or more of poverty at the end of their working life,'' he said.

``Given the difficulty of people over the age of 55 in finding work, they may now be denied the ability to move from Newstart to the higher and more secure age pension until they are 70.''

Mr Reidy acknowledged that Australia had a problem with falling federal revenue but said those at the bottom of the income ladder ``should not bear the burden of balancing the budget''.

``The federal government must instead prune what has been termed middle-class welfare.''

Mr Reidy said the pension assets test should be changed so that the pension was no longer available to those with over a million dollars in assets in addition to the family home.

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