Note: This post refers to ‘social housing’ to capture the broad nature of proposals and advocacy of a number of different groups to the Federal Government. The VPTA continues to strongly advocate to Governments of all levels for an emphasis on public housing noting that the term Social Housing confuses where the highest need and demand is i.e. public housing, which unfortunately is clearly not the focus of this Federal Government.
Leading up to the October 6 Budget release, a very broad group of people and organisations were sending the Federal Government a very clear message.
Everyone was saying that they should make a significant investment in social housing (including combinations of public housing, community housing and affordable housing).
When we say ‘everyone’, we mean it literally.
Even groups that don’t typically support initiatives to address housing stress and housing affordability (like changes to negative gearing, capital gains tax and inclusionary zoning) have been saying that Australia needs more social housing, and that the Federal Government should be playing a big role in delivering it.
Here’s what the Budget means for people living in public housing, and people on the waitlist.
No New Homes
Although States and Territories hold responsibility for delivering housing assistance, this work is directly funded by the Commonwealth. Historically, in times of economic downturn or trouble, Federal Governments have become more directly involved in social housing and boosted construction. Most recently, this occurred in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. The economy increased by $1.30 for every $1 that was invested in social housing.
Nobody questions the need for more housing. Nobody questions the effectiveness of housing as a stimulus strategy. This Government just chose not to do it. If you search the budget papers, the term ‘social housing’ does not appear at all.
There is a small amount of money to assist in reconstructing public housing damaged in natural disasters in the Northern Territory, and an increase in the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation Guarantee for the Australian Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator – which is way for community housing providers to borrow money at favorable rates to construct new properties. The word from the Community Housing Industry Association is that the increase is too small to lead to any additional construction.
This means that there is nothing in the Budget to deliver the new homes Australians have said are desperately needed.
What very little funds that do exist, have been set aside for community housing providers.
Cuts to JobSeeker
The Budget indicates that the JobSeeker rate will return to the original level, of $40 a day, early in 2021.
Cuts to Homelessness Services
The Budget cuts $41.3 million from homelessness services from July 2021.
The sector is already severely under-resourced. In the last financial year, Specialist Homelessness Services turned away 253 people a day as they were unable to assist them.
Supplementary payments for some income support recipients
Time for the better news.
Some income support recipients will receive two additional payments of $250 each. One in December 2020, and the other in early 2021.
You can see if you might be eligible here.