Government’s commitment to funding social housing patchy

Is it really a government priority to redirect all monies available into the expansion of social housing?

‘Putting a roof over people’s heads’, expanding social housing and reducing the 30,000 household waitlist is the rationale expressed by the Minister for Housing when he cut funding to all 23 Tenant Advice and Advocacy Services across the state and reallocated $5M of tenant bond interest money.

However, has this government applied this priority across portfolios?

In an early change, the Newman government also introduced additional stamp duty concessions. These concessions apply to repeat home purchasers and add to those already in place for first home buyers.

The expansion of the stamp duty concessions will cost the government an estimated $250 million per year in lost revenue. Why did the government not redirected this money into the delivery of social housing as well, rather than expanding the stamp duty concessions to those who have previously bought a family home?

Just one quarter of one percent of this lost revenue would pay for the entire Tenant Advice and Advocacy program at the current rates of funding – all 23 services statewide! By reducing these concessions by that small an amount, this self-funded service (largely from the interest generated on tenants’ bonds) providing services mainly to tenants in the private rental market, could continue.  Its operation reduces homelessness and the queue for social housing because it helps tenants maintain their housing in the private market where the majority of service users reside. Private rental market tenants are the most likely of any housing tenure group to be living in housing stress.

However, it seems it’s okay to slug private renters an additional tax of sorts – the loss of their self-funded program – in order to send the program money to build new social housing whilst repeat homeowners have renewed concessions introduced.

If it truly is the priority of the government to put roofs over people’s heads, these new concessions make no sense.  Annually they will cost the government more than 40 times that which the Tenant Advice and Advocacy program does.

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