The Remote Area Benefit is a real but often overlooked Salary Packaging perk designed for both renters and homeowners. To put it plainly, it offers a straightforward avenue for individuals residing in regional and remote Australia to increase their disposable income.
The remote area benefit is not a benefit that employers provide often, and the main reason is that people just don’t know what it is. We sat down with John Heinke, the CEO of Salary Packaging Australia to learn a little more about it.
Who can take advantage of the Remote Area Benefit?
If a person both lives and works in a town considered ‘remote’, then they are eligible for the Remote Area Benefit. The people who benefit initially are not only the employees who garner a benefit on mortgage, rent or home fuel, but also the community. If you increase a percentage of the population’s income by $50 a week, that will go back into the community. The multiplier is about 2.7 so for every $100 extra put into the community, there is a $270 benefit that flows through the community. If someone is unsure if they are eligible, that’s where we, at S.P.A. can help.
Want to know if you live in a Remote Area and qualify, simply complete our instant savings calculator, submit a couple of details, and we will call you to confirm your eligibility. Another good way to know if you are eligible, is if you have previously been able to claim a remote area concession on your yearly income tax return with the ATO.
Why hasn’t this benefit been promoted to councils and other regional organisations?
Well, people just aren’t well informed about it, so we try and use that as an educational and relationship-building activity with employers that we can develop the business around. Also, many companies simply don’t want to travel, and would prefer to operate out of call centers. Unfortunately, some people in the larger cities just don’t understand regional Australia, its people and their needs. These companies operate similar to that of big banks, where the interactions are very impersonal. At S.P.A. we will make every interaction with our staff friendly and helpful in accordance with your personal circumstances.
Do you think this can help draw employees to work in remote areas, in addition to their already existing benefits?
Definitely. If you look at the current problem with urban Australia, a lot of these remote regional areas provide all of the infrastructure but they’re really far away. So if someone can see the ability and the benefits to go to one of these areas and develop their lifestyle by owning a house and working in the community, they will. People will leave the big smoke if there are big enough opportunities elsewhere, and I think the remote area benefit can be that opportunity.
How do you think this benefit will help the regional community and not just the employee?
The regional community is a product of the people who live there. If we can increase the cash flow within the community by reducing tax by an appropriate means, which in Remote Area you can, then people will have those extra funds which they can invest in either a property or day to day living expenditure which will be spent within the community. It will increase the quality of life of the entire community. Some of the houses in those older country towns are going for only $300,000, so for example, a young engineer from Sydney or Melbourne could have their own house and a career within a community environment, so suddenly they have the added remote area benefit to attract them to that location.
So that would then increase employment rates in regional areas?
Most definitely. The beauty of Salary Packaging is that it is a way for the employer to remunerate the employee, with the help of the various tax acts, so that a person living and working in the regional and remote area actually can be paid the same but take home more pay every pay cycle. That’s the way the legislation is actually structured, so here we are saying you’re allowed to provide the remote area benefit, so why not do it to get a better outcome for your employees.
For more information on Remote Area Benefit, as well as all the services S.P.A. offers. Click here to calculate your savings and get the ball rolling. The process is fast and simple.