The tax cuts offered by the government may add $5.00 to the budgets of people on incomes up to $708 per week. But $5 a week won’t dent the rent.
Even $20 a week for incomes of $919 per week doesn’t help that much against often rising rents of $400 or $500 a week that many on those incomes face.’
The central themes of budget 2019 are tax cuts and infrastructure. Tax cuts don’t help the poor much when they desperately need affordable housing. In our view, housing is infrastructure and social and affordable housing are essential infrastructure supporting people to participate economically, socially and culturally.
In the midst of a housing crisis for low and moderate income households and with a $100 billion splurge on infrastructure, housing has again been ignored by the Morrison government.
Recent research by AHURI and the UNSW projects a shortfall of up to 1 million social and affordable homes by 2036 and previous estimates put the need right now at 500,000. The budget ignores this crisis.
National Shelter Spokesperson Adrian Pisarski said, ‘2 years ago, affordable housing was the ‘centrepiece of the budget’ and made a downpayment on addressing the crisis establishing the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), since then they assume they’ve fixed it.’
Affordable housing and social housing, both public and community housing, ain’t fixed,’ he added.
At a time when we desperately need a program to build new supply dedicated to low income households, their needs have again been ignored in the budget.’
In Budgets like 2019, as a government nears the end of its term they tend to splash money to boost chances of re-election. We hope some of that will land in the area we advocate.
This was the government’s chance to build on the good initiatives of 2017 by adding a capital component, looking at how to use new incentives to get states and the private sector to do more, instead there is very little to help people struggling to meet their housing costs.’
There is some additional, if already announced, money for prevention strategies aimed at reducing domestic and family violence - $68.3m, money for the 1800RESPECT line $64.0m, $82.2m for frontline services, $78.4m to provide safe places and $35.0m for the support and prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, all of which are welcome. However there is virtually nothing to build new safe homes for their long term housing needs.
There was no boost to Commonwealth Rent Assistance to alleviate the crippling rent paid by the lowest income households, no new supply strategy, no tax reform to end the distortions and rebalance the market, and nothing to help Gens X and onwards get into the market. It’s very disappointing.’ Mr. Pisarski continued.
CRA is estimated to grow from $4.464b in 18/19 to $4.618b in 2019/20 but it’s rate and indexation remain the same. The government signed off on remote housing deals for the NT over 5 years and one year deals for WA and SA but there was nothing for Queensland where the need is high.
There is little else to say on a budget which ignored such obvious needs to splash on election sweeteners, which we think most people will see for what they are.
Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA, is available for comment on 0419 931 819.