Housing affordability should be centre of election agenda : ACOSS launches election platform

4 August 2010

ACOSS is calling for political leaders to commit to measures to improve the critical shortage of affordable housing in Australia and alleviate the acute financial pressures on low-income people.

Launching its election platform today, ACOSS has called for the establishment of an Affordable Housing Growth Fund to address the shortage of nearly half a million affordable homes. Read the full statement here.

“Australia has some of the most expensive housing in the world. With rents rising dramatically over the past five years in our capital cities, renters on income support payments or low wages are struggling to make ends meet,” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service.

“A large portion of family budgets are eaten up by housing costs. A parent with two kids who receives $527 per week in payments often must spend over half of this payment on rent. This means there is little buffer to cover prices rises, such as electricity and gas costs.

“The Government has invested substantially in this area through the National Affordable Housing Agreement; the National Rental Affordability Scheme and $6 billion for social housing. ACOSS calls for a commitment to continuing 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 build a fair Australia which ensures people on low incomes are not excluded because of social or economic disadvantage.

“ACOSS is also calling on the parties to act to improve the employment and training prospects of the 600,000 people on unemployment payments. Young people, mature workers and sole parents are at risk of being left out of the jobs market as the economy recovers,” said Dr Goldie.

“People who already faced disadvantage in the jobs market, such as a disability, being over 50 years old, or living in an area with few jobs, are the last to be employed when the economy improves.

“Australia invests less in employment assistance than most wealthy nations. Employment services receive an average of just $500 per person to assist long term unemployed people to train and overcome their other barriers to work.

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.

Oral health
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.

Climate change
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 our community and commit to fund award increases for community sector workers that flow from the Fair Work equal pay claim.

Media Contact: Clare Cameron, ACOSS – 0419 626 155