A new survey has shown that the majority of Australians think the age pension should be increased, while Australians who aren’t retired think they won’t have enough money when they do.
The Australian National University (ANU) survey of almost 3,500 adults in early 2021 found more than seven-in-10 adults (70.5%) think the current age pension of $944.30 per fortnight for a single person with no children isn’t enough.
The average age pension payment supported by respondents was $1,115 per fortnight.
The study also found almost six-in-10 (55.7%) of Australians who aren’t yet retired are worried they won’t have enough savings to live comfortably when they stop working.
“In early 2021, as Australia was continuing to emerge from the COVID-recession, the majority of Australians who weren’t currently retired thought that they will not have enough money when they do,” Professor Biddle said.
“Of those Australians who say they are worried about not having enough money in retirement in 2021, females, people who hadn’t finished year 12 and those living outside capital cities were most concerned.
“Our study shows a large increase since the last time we asked this question in 2015, when only 39.6% of Australians thought they would not have enough money to live comfortably.”
According to the findings, 38% of Australians think they will have enough savings to live comfortably in retirement – a similar level to 2015 when 39% of people said the same.
“But, we have seen a very large decline in the per cent of people who said they definitely would have enough money — 21.3% in 2015 compared to just 6.1% in 2021,” Professor Biddle said.
The study shows already retired Australians are less worried about having insufficient savings, with more than 71% saying they definitely or probably had enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their retirement.
JobSeeker and superannuation also a concern
When it came to the question of unemployment benefits, the survey shows Australians think the rate of $620.80 per fortnight for a single person with no children is too low – the rate introduced on 1 April.
Instead, on average respondents thought a rate of $711 per fortnight was more appropriate.
The study, led by the ANU Centre for Social Research Methods, also asked Australians whether current JobSeeker and superannuation arrangements were sufficient.
It found a clear majority of Australians, 55%, think the rate of superannuation payments should be increased from 9.5% to 12% by 2025 – a change already legislated. Another 20.8% said the rate should be greater than 12%.
Asked whether they would use their superannuation for other purposes if they could access their savings early, 47% of people said yes. Of those, 26.9% said they would use it to purchase a home or reduce their mortgage, while 10.2% said they would use their savings to meet current living expenses.
Young Australians aged 18 to 24 years and older Australians (aged 55 years and above) said they would be less likely to use their superannuation for a home purchase, whereas those born overseas in a non-English speaking country said they would be more likely to.
The study also showed how many Australians have had to tap into their savings during the last 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 13.3% accessing superannuation early and 17.9% drawing on retirement savings.
The study was led by the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods as part of its ongoing COVID-19 monitoring program with data collected by the Social Research Centre.
Read the full study online.