COVID payments had ‘detrimental’ impact on retirement savings
While the COVID-19 early release payments played an important role, ASFA says it also impacted the retirement savings of millions of Australians.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has released new analysis which it says illustrates the impact of the COVID-19 early release of superannuation (ERS) scheme on both individuals and superannuation funds.
The analysis by ASFA shows that funds made a total of $38 billion in payments for a total of 4.9 million applications.
Around 3 million Australians applied for early release, with many making two applications.
The research indicates that nearly 1 million Australians closed or largely cleaned out their superannuation account as a result of early release payments.
“The cleaning out of accounts was more prevalent for women, single parents, and the unemployed,” ASFA said.
ASFA deputy chief executive Glen McCrea noted that many Australians and temporary residents faced considerable financial stress due to COVID-19 impacts on the economy and employment.
“However, ERS applicants paid a relatively high price for the monies released, both in terms of the impact on eventual retirement savings and in taking a benefit when investment markets were temporarily well down,” said Mr McCrea.
“While superannuation was able to do much of the heavy lifting by distributing payments to people quickly in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that we recognise the detrimental impact that this has had for the retirement savings of millions of Australians.”
Mr McCrea said it was more important than ever the the objective of super is legislated to “ensure that Australians’ savings are preserved to support a dignified lifestyle in retirement”.