Federal budget: More than $11 billion promised to help housing crisis

Renters under pressure will be given a helping hand, as Australia’s housing woes played a key focus in the federal budget.

The government has committed $1.9 billion to increase the maximum rates of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 10 per cent.

Under the supplement, welfare recipients who rent receive up to $250 a fortnight.

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The increase builds on the 15 per cent boost made in September and is the first back-to-back increase to the payment in more than 30 years.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers acknowledged renters of all ages were doing it tough and said rising rents were a big part of Australia’s inflation challenge.

The recent independent National Housing Supply and Affordability Council inaugural report painted a troubling picture of Australia’s housing system.

Rents have been outpacing wage growth and vacancy rates have been hovering around all-time lows, leading to a surge in housing insecurity and homelessness.

Nearly 170,000 households are on public housing wait lists and 122,000 people are experiencing homelessness.

Australia’s housing system has been unable to build enough new housing stock to keep up with the needs of the population, budget papers state.

“This has caused a growing supply deficit, resulting in worsening affordability for both renters and first-home buyers.”

Chalmers said the government was investing a further $6.2 billion in this budget in new initiatives to address Australia’s housing underinvestment.

“The current housing pipeline is backed up,” Chalmers said.

“We’ve already allocated $3.5 billion to address (infrastructure) bottlenecks and slash red tape, and this budget includes another $1 billion to help states and territories build more housing sooner.”

An additional 20,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places will be opened up in courses relevant to the construction sector to help address workforce shortages.

The budget also promised more housing support for vulnerable Australians, including funding for a new five-year, $9.3 billion national agreement on social housing and homelessness with states and territories.

Federal funding for homelessness services will also double to $400 million a year — funding the states and territories must match.

The government will also target $1 billion towards crisis and transitional accommodation for women and children escaping domestic violence and young people.

– With AAP

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