A raft of changes and new laws came into force on April 1, which will mean some things will cost more. See how they affect you and your family.
A raft of changes and new laws came into force on April 1, which will mean some things will cost more. See how they affect you and your family.

New laws and changes that may cost you more

A raft of changes and new laws came into force on April 1, which will mean some things will cost more.

See how the changes affect you and your family.

WELFARE PAYMENTS

From April 1, 2021, 1.95 million Australians will have the following payments permanently increase by $50 per fortnight:

*JobSeeker Payment

*Youth Allowance

*Disability Support Pension if you're under 21 with no dependent children

*Parenting Payment

*Austudy

*ABSTUDY Living Allowance, except for tertiary students under 16 and masters and doctorate students

*Special Benefit

*Partner Allowance

*Widow Allowance

*Farm Household Allowance.

According to Services Australia, when you report on or after April 14 2021, recipients get the normal payment rate for their situation.

The income free area is changing to $150 for some payments from 1 April 2021. This means you can have income up to $150 per fortnight before it impacts your payment. It applies if you get one of the following:

*JobSeeker Payment

*Parenting Payment partnered

*Youth Allowance for job seekers

*Farm Household Allowance

*Widow Allowance

*Partner Allowance.

The partner income test taper rate will return to 60 cents for every dollar above the partner income free area.

These changes mean that your rate of payment may vary over the period that includes April 1, 2021.

The coronavirus supplement ended on March 31, 2021 and the new JobSeeker rate - after it was lifted by $50 a fortnight - starts from April 1 at $620.80 a fortnight, or $310.40 a week, which is over $44 a day.

Research says 110,000 jobs will go across the country this month as JobKeeper comes to an end. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty
Research says 110,000 jobs will go across the country this month as JobKeeper comes to an end. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty


WORKER MUTUAL OBLIGATION REQUIREMENTS

The minimum number of monthly job searches will also rise from 8 to 15. This applies if you're in Jobactive or Disability Employment Services.

SEASONAL WORKERS, NEWLY ARRIVED RESIDENTS

The waiting periods for newly arrived residents and seasonal workers both restart from April 1, 2021.

It means the waiver of the Newly Arrived Residents' Waiting Period (NARWP) will end.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) the NARWP was removed for:

*Austudy

*Farm Household Allowance

*JobSeeker Payment

*Parenting Payment

*Special Benefit

*Youth Allowance.

The time you've spent in Australia as a resident or eligible visa holder counts towards this waiting period.

If you got a payment while your NARWP was suspended, this period will still count towards your waiting period.

Payments will stop on April 1, 2021 if both of these apply:

*you haven't served the full NARWP

*you don't have an exemption.

But the seasonal work preclusion period may apply if one has recently finished seasonal, contract or intermittent work. Workers may have to wait if they claim one of the following payments after March 31, 2021:

*ABSTUDY

*Austudy

*Farm Household Allowance

*JobSeeker Payment

*Parenting Payment

*Special Benefit

*Youth Allowance.

TEMPORARY MEASURES

To ensure Australians are supported during the recovery from COVID-19 these measures will be extended from April 1, 2021:

* The extension of eligibility to those self-isolating or caring for someone required to self-isolate will be extended until June 30, 2021.

* The waiver of the Ordinary Waiting Period will be extended for all payments until June 30, 2021.

* Temporary pension portability extensions for pensioners unable to return to their usual place of residence within 26 weeks due to circumstances beyond their control will be extended until June 30, 2021.

*The extension of these measures will allow individuals who are out of work, required to self-isolate or unable to return to Australia will continue to be able to access support.

Private health changes are now in effect and you have options if you want to switch.
Private health changes are now in effect and you have options if you want to switch.


PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE

From April 1 more than 11 million Australians who hold private health insurance policies will face an average price hike on their premium of about 2.7 per cent.

For most people, this will be the second price hike in six months.

A new rating system will also be enforced.

There will be four tiers - basic, bronze, silver and gold - with all prices increasing by an average of $6 to $14 a month.

To see a full comparison of health funds and which one may suit you, see our guide.

CHILD CARE

The government's child care recovery package also continues and includes the relaxation of the activity test for families whose activity level has been impacted by COVID-19. It will be extended to April 4, 2021.

HOMEBUILDER

Australians now have until April 14, 2021 to submit HomeBuilder applications, regardless of which grant they are applying for.

The two grant amounts that are now available include:

*$25,000 grant - you must enter into a contract to build or renovate between June 4, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

*$15,000 grant - you must enter into a contract to build or renovate between January 1, 2021 and March 31, 2021.

Applications can now be submitted up until April 14, 2021 (inclusive). This will apply to all eligible contracts signed on or after June 4, 2020.

Construction on a new home must start within six months of the contract date.

ROAD TOLLS

There are road toll increases for NSW and Victoria.

For NSW, go here

For Victoria go here

NEW DRUGS ON THE PBS

Australians living with breast cancer, lung cancer, osteoporosis and asthma will have access to medicines listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

From April 1, Kisqali® (ribociclib) is having its listing expanded on the PBS to be used in combination with Fulvestrant Sandoz® (fulvestrant) for patients with hormone receptor positive (HR+) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative (HER2-) unresectable advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Without the PBS subsidy, around 1,600 patients might pay more than $50,000 per course of treatment. Instead they will now pay $41.30 per script or $6.60 with a concession card.

Fulvestrant Sandoz® (fulvestrant) is also being made available on the PBS for the first time as monotherapy for those women in need of this targeted treatment on its own.

Without the PBS subsidy, over 100 patients might pay more than $7,900 per course of treatment.

To support over 130 Australians with previously untreated squamous Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer, listings for Opdivo® (nivolumab) and Yervoy® (ipilimumab) plus chemotherapy are now being extended. Patients could otherwise pay more than $100,000 per course of treatment.

For 2.7 million Australians living with asthma the government has extended the listing for Dupixent® (dupilumab) which will provide a new treatment option to around 1,700 Australians suffering from uncontrolled severe eosinophilic or allergic asthma per year. Australians with these severe forms of Asthma will save around $20,600 a year.

Atectura Breezhaler® (indacaterol + glycopyronum + mometasone), will provide a new treatment option for other severe forms of asthma for more than 80,000 Australians, saving around $400 a year.

Evenity® (Romosozumab) is also now listed for the treatment of severe osteoporosis in patients, providing relief to more than 2,800 Australians. Patients may save around $6,300 per course of treatment.

 

The cost of Dupixent will be cut now it is on the PBS. Picture: Jay Town
The cost of Dupixent will be cut now it is on the PBS. Picture: Jay Town


EMAIL 'UNSUBSCRIBE LAWS'

The federal government has updated Spam Regulations under the Spam Act, mandating that organisations must make it easy for customers to 'unsubscribe'.

It means when a person receives a commercial electronic message and makes an 'unsubscribe' request they should not be required to:

*use a premium service;

*provide further personal information;

*log into or create an account; or

*pay a fee or charge to the sender or a related person (with some exceptions).

The changes are meant to help provide certainty for consumers, companies and regulatory compliance advisers after frustrations were raised in submissions to the government's review of the regulations.

Complaints were raised with regulators, including the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Originally published as New laws, changes that may cost you more