Home threshold won't change in pension asset test: Morrison

Brett Wortman

SOCIAL Services Minister Scott Morrison has ruled out any changes to the way the family home is treated in pension assets tests, as speculation mounts that access to the age pension will be tightened in next week's budget.

Mr Morrison moved on Tuesday to quell fears of a change in the indexing of pensions, telling ABC Radio he was considering lowering the threshold for the part pension.

"If a measure was to come off the table, like CPI indexation for the pension, then new measures would have to go on and they're exactly the discussions we've been in," he told AM.

But Mr Morrison refused to detail what the changes would be ahead of tomorrow's final Cabinet meeting before next week's budget.

"At the end of the day, the welfare system is there for people most in need. It's there as a safety net. It's not there as an incentive system," he said.

After the government's failure to get Senate support for many pension changes in last year's budget, it is understood this year's document will focus on spreading any belt tightening across higher income brackets.

The Australian reported on Tuesday that the government was considering a new pension assets tests for self-funded retirees, but Mr Morrison said he would not speculate ahead of the Cabinet meeting.

Treasurer Joe Hockey set the budget agenda early for all ministers, indicating that any new spending measures would have to be offset by savings.

Labor's families spokes-woman, Jenny Macklin, said Labor would likely oppose any changes to pensions as they would constitute a "broken promise".

Ms Macklin again called for last year's budget plan for cuts to pension increases to be dropped - a measure the government has not yet officially abandoned.

The Greens spokeswoman on aging, Senator Rachel Siewert, backed a call for a wide-ranging review of all retirement incomes, after seniors groups proposed the review a fortnight ago.

Under the existing rules, retired couples who own their home and have other assets up to the value of $1.15 million still qualify for a part pension.

Topics:  assets pension scott morrison superannuation

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