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National Taskforce to Tackle Housing Affordability

14 April 2015 at 12:10 pm
Xavier Smerdon
A new national taskforce will tackle housing affordability as a new report confirms that stable housing is the key to long-term employment.

Xavier Smerdon | 14 April 2015 at 12:10 pm


National Taskforce to Tackle Housing Affordability
14 April 2015 at 12:10 pm

A new national taskforce will tackle housing affordability as a new report confirms that stable housing is the key to long-term employment.

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey announced recently that the taskforce, to be led by Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas, would target the “inability of young people to be able to access the housing market in a way they previously have been”.

It is understood the main aim of the taskforce will be to look at ways to increase the supply of housing stock.

The building industry welcomed the increased focus on housing affordability, with CEO of Master Builders Australia, Wilhelm Harnisch, saying that it could address the issue of supply not being able to keep up with demand.

“Increasing housing supply is essential to prevent the intergenerational home-ownership gap from widening,” Harnisch said.

“The availability of adequate affordable and appropriate housing is a fundamental pillar underpinning our social and economic wellbeing as a community.

“More effective cooperation between all levels of Government is fundamental to meaningful action on housing affordability because over-regulation and inefficiency in the supply process by state and local governments is the major barrier to building new housing.”

It comes as a new report from the Productivity Commission contradicted claims that public housing is a disincentive to work and highlighted the role of stable housing in employment outcomes.

The Housing Assistance and Employment in Australia report cautioned against any move towards market rents for public housing tenants, a recommendation of the recent Welfare Review led by Patrick McClure.

Deputy CEO of welfare peak body, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Tessa Boyd-Caine, welcomed the report.

“This report confirms what ACOSS has been saying for a long time, namely that it's the level of disadvantage and employment support available that determines a person's work opportunities, not the characteristics of the housing assistance they receive,” Boyd-Caine said.

"The McClure Review correctly identified an inequity in the different treatment of public and private rental tenants on low incomes. ACOSS supports its recommendation for a review of housing assistance and rent settings, including the adequacy and indexation of Rent Assistance. However, the Commission's report confirms our concerns that the McClure Review's proposal to move public housing tenants to market rents would increase rental stress among public housing tenants without increasing employment participation.

"Reform should ensure that both public and private tenants receive adequate subsidies to protect them from rental stress and after-housing poverty.”

Boyd-Caine said the Commission's report found that housing has an important “stability effect” and that short tenures are a concern from an employment perspective.

It also found that the more times a person moves in a 12-month period, the less likely they will be working at the end of the year and that public housing tenancies average seven years compared to 1.2 years in a private market.

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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