Housing Affordability Should be Centre of Election Agenda
4 August 2010 at 10:55 am
Peak welfare council, ACOSS is calling for political leaders to commit to measures to improve the critical shortage of affordable housing in Australia and to alleviate acute financial pressures on low-income people.
Launching its election platform, the Australian Council of Social Service, ACOSS, has called for the establishment of an Affordable Housing Growth Fund to address what it says is a shortage of nearly half a million affordable homes.
The new CEO of ACOSS, Dr Cassandra Goldie says Australia has some of the most expensive housing in the world and with rents rising dramatically over the past five years in the capital cities, renters on income support payments or low wages are struggling to make ends meet.
Dr Goldie says a large portion of family budgets are eaten up by housing costs.
She says the Federal Labor Government has invested substantially in this area through the National Affordable Housing Agreement; the National Rental Affordability Scheme and $6 billion for social housing.
However, ACOSS has called for a commitment to continue these programs, along with a clear plan to meet housing demand over the long term.
In its election platform, ACOSS has outlined key priorities to ensure people on low incomes are not excluded because of social or economic disadvantage.
Dr Goldie says ACOSS is also calling on the parties to act to improve the employment and training prospects of the 600,000 people on unemployment payments.
ACOSS’ Election Platform:
Work and income support
- Set-up training programs that are tailored, based on the individual needs of a jobseeker (for example paid work experience in a regular job) and to resource employment services providers so they can work intensively with jobseekers.
- Reshape income support payments so they are based on the minimum cost of living in Australia. To start closing the gap between different payments, where an unemployed person on $231 receives $109 less per week than a single pensioner, the single Newstart Allowance should be raised by $45 per week.
- Establish an Affordable Housing Growth Fund for future ongoing construction of homes, to increase the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 30%.
Restate a commitment to halving homelessness by 2020.
- Ensure timely access to oral health care through a universal access scheme that covers a comprehensive dental health check and a basic course of treatment every two years.
- Redesign mainstream employment services in remote and regional Indigenous communities and expand the number of fully-funded jobs in remote communities.
- Improve national Indigenous health outcomes through investment in the capacity of Aboriginal primary health care services.
- Strengthen the tax system by closing off income tax shelters and loopholes and introduce taxes on mineral resources and land.
- Introduce a price on carbon which includes adequate compensation for low and middle income earners.
- Invest in energy efficiency that readies the community sector, lowers costs of operation and ensure continuity of service.
Strengthening the community sector
- Recognise the vital role of social services in the community and commit to fund award increases for community sector workers that flow from the Fair Work equal pay claim.
For more information go to: www.acoss.org.au