Age pension take-up falls under super

The rate of age pension take-up had fallen by 9 per cent since the introduction of superannuation and almost one-third of retirees were now self-funded, putting paid to the myth that compulsory super as a policy was having negligible impact on retirement incomes, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA).

A paper produced by the superannuation industry peak body, titled “Mythbusters: Myths that super will come up short”, sought to underline that super was delivering on its intention to reduce the reliance of retirees on the public purse and improve living standards in retirement, addressing a number of myths including that super was not getting people off the age pension or helping to contain pension expenditure.

The paper said the current age pension take-up was around 70 per cent, down from 79 per cent in 1997, and 30 per cent of those over 65 were completely self-funded in retirement.

Additionally, ASFA sought to dispel the speculation that most savings happened outside super, stating 90 per cent of households used super and housing as their two main forms of retirement support, while it also predicted pension reliance would be down to 50 per cent of the population by 2050.

ASFA chief executive Martin Fahy said the super system would ensure age pension spending remained contained at between 2 per cent and 3 per cent of gross domestic product.

“Downplaying the role of super using flawed statistics and dodgy averages is a debating trick rather than sound public policy analysis,” Fahy said.

However, in an address to delegates at the 2017 ASFA Conference in Sydney yesterday, association chair Michael Easson said the sector still had more to do to deliver better retirement outcomes for fund members, with over-regulation presenting the biggest hurdle to innovation in the industry.

“Every extra board paper at a superannuation meeting dealing with new regulation, every new form to fill in is time wasted on spending time on innovation and creativity,” Easson said.

“Every time that we force attention on cumbersome reporting requirements, we detract attention from the things that matter.”

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