The Grattan Institute proposal would lift the age of access to superannuation. Photo: Jessica Shapiro
Australians would be denied access to both superannuation and the age pension until they turned 70 under a radical plan that goes far beyond the one proposed by the Productivity Commission last week.
The pension access age is currently scheduled to climb six months from 65 to 65½ in 2017. After that it will climb six months every two years until it reaches 67 in 2023.
A new proposal from the Grattan Institute would double the pace from 2017 onwards, lifting the access age by six months every year until it hits 70 in 2025. After that it would be progressively lifted further in line with increases in lifespans, with no ultimate limit.
Developed parallel to, and without knowledge of, the Productivity Commission plan, the Grattan Institute proposal would also lift the age of access to superannuation. The super access age is already scheduled to climb from 55 to 60 by 2024. But Grattan would increase it by six months every year from 2015 until it hit 70 in 2035. Then it would index the access age to rise automatically.
Its report, Balancing Budgets: Tough Choices We Need to Make, released on Monday, identifies 20 proposals to repair the budget, and finds lifting the pension and super access age the most attractive of the lot. It would save an extra $12 billion a year in today's dollars when the benefits were fully realised - about a fifth of the $60 billion annual shortfall it says the budget faces.
It would also boost economic activity by up to 2 per cent.
The institute conceded that ''some who would prefer to stop working earlier will not be able to afford to do so''.
All of its top four proposals take benefits or concessions from pensioners or superannuants. Between them they would save the budget $28 billion a year - almost half the sum needed.
''Many things are worth doing, but they don't save much money,'' Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley said. ''Attacking so-called middle class welfare is one. You could take away Family Tax Benefit B from the high-income families that don't need it, but you would only save around $500 million per year. That's nothing compared to what Australians over 60 get through superannuation and the assets test. Australia does have a middle class welfare problem, but most of the recipients are over the age of 65.''
As part of the assault on aged welfare, the institute would also add to the pension means test the value of the family home.
It said almost half of all pension payments - about $20 billion - go to households with net assets of more than $500,000.
The institute said the current assets test encourages older people to stay in houses that are bigger than they need.
Those excluded from the pension by the change would be offered the option of continuing to receive it in return for allowing the Commonwealth to accumulate an interest in their property, which it would take in cash when it was sold. The change would save $7 billion a year.
The institute's other proposals include removing the 50 per cent discount on capital gains tax ($5 billion) and extending the Goods and Services Tax to cover food and privately provided education.