Lyndal only has $1 left after receiving the pension, so she asked the government to do something about it

After the pension gets paid into Lyndal Johnson’s bank account each fortnight, she is left with only a few dollars to spare, so she decided to do something about it.

The 71-year-old reached out to the state government to share the plight faced by pensioners but did not expect her email to attract the attention of Premier Peter Malinauskas and Social Services Minister Nat Cook, who decided to bring forward its cost of living concession scheme.

She said she was looking forward to receiving an extra $108 from the state government’s scheme, but realised that, as a renter, she would not be getting the money until next March.

“I mean, my cost of living is going to be high for all of that time, so I thought, why should people who rent have to wait an extra 10 months?” she said.

Houses on a hillside
Ms Johnson says the extra money will help pensioners who are struggling to pay bills.(ABC News: Eugene Boisvert)

It was a pleasant surprise for Ms Johnson.

“I thought I’ll probably never get a reply. So, you can imagine my surprise when I did get a reply,” she said.

The payments for pensioners, veterans and health care card holders, are increasing by up to $217.

“People who are already qualifying for the cost-of-living concessions will automatically receive that over the next couple of months with payments due out in August rather than them having to wait until March,” Ms Cook said.

“Doubling the concession payments this year won’t fix everything, but it will make a significant difference to those who receive them.

The government will also review the scheme to see how it could be fairer.

“At the moment renters receive about half that of home owners and we think some serious consideration needs to be given to levelling that up and increasing the renter version of the cost of living concession,” Catherine Earl, the director of policy and advocacy at the SA Council of Social Services, said.

Rental costs ‘completely unaffordable’

With rents skyrocketing and availability at its lowest level in 16 years, the government’s also preparing to review the Residential Tenancies Act.

It will look at things like terms of leases, rent rises and access issues like the keeping of pets.

Lyndal Johnson, 71, with social services minister Nat Cook and the premier.
Pensioner Lyndal Johnson discusses the scheme with social services minister Nat Cook and the SA Premier Peter Malinauskas.(ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

Dr Earl said rental affordability was the biggest problem for low-income earners.

“We have a lot of pressures in South Australia at the moment with our current average rents upwards of $400, which is completely unaffordable for people on low incomes,” she said.

“If you’re on a social security payment, that rent is about equivalent to what your full income will be for that, so it’s a real problem in our state and we need to be looking at lots of solutions to tackle it.”