Victory on Rental Affordability Scheme
18 February 2011 at 12:10 pm
Welfare groups and the Greens are claiming victory in their bid to save the National Rental Affordability Scheme, with the Government scrapping its proposed $264 million cuts to the program.
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In order to win Greens support for the flood levy, the Gillard Government has scrapped the proposed $264m cuts to the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) – instead deferring the final $264 million spend until 2015 as proposed by housing affordability bodies.
The National Rental Affordability Scheme provides tax breaks or grants to community and business groups to build and rent homes for low-income and disadvantaged Australians.
Greens housing spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam says the NRAS is a billion dollar project providing 50,000 incentive packages for the construction of more affordable rental homes, for the first time encouraging large investors to work with community housing providers.
Senator Ludlam says housing advocates had urged the Government to delay spending the final $264 million to allow the sector to catch up, rather than cutting the fund altogether. The proposed cut would have seen 15,000 homes cut from the program, a move described by leading economist Saul Eslake as “unequivocally bad policy”.
Ludlam says the while the NRAS is by no means perfect, it is an essential part of the housing affordability landscape.
national welfare peak body, ACOSS hailed the Federal Government’s decision to reverse its planned wind back of the NRAS, saying the decision is sensible, considered, and must be applauded.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie says the move will provide a big boost in confidence to housing groups and the industry for an important program designed to increase private investment in low-rent housing at a time of growing affordable housing stress.
Goldie says the NRAS was only introduced three years ago and was just starting to gain momentum – now investors can be confident that the Government is truly committed to the program.
She says the NRAS is an essential part of the solution to relieving the affordable housing crisis in Australia so many people are experiencing, and ACOSS commends the Government for listening to the many voices who backed the program from the start, including the Australian Greens, who recently joined ACOSS and housing groups calling for a Government rethink on the cuts in Canberra.
Pro Bono Australia News reported last week on ACOSS heading up a delegation of leading community and welfare groups heading to Canberra to urge the Federal Parliament to include them in the flood recovery decision making process.
The government also scrapped $100 million in proposed cuts to the solar flagships program. To pass the levy, the government still needs to find a further vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate.