ACOSS welcomes expert panel on social housing

The Australian Council of Social Service today welcomed the establishment of an expert panel to advise the Federal Government on improving Australia’s troubled social housing system as more than 173,000 households remain on waiting lists around the country.

“Hopefully this will be the impetus for a leap forward on how best to provide housing assistance for the most disadvantaged people in Australia, said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“It is simply unacceptable that so many people are currently going without access to basic affordable housing in our rich country, and ACOSS has been arguing for coordinated action across all levels of Governments.

“We are particularly pleased to see three members of the National Affordable Housing Summit Group, of which ACOSS is a member, on the panel. Professor Julian Disney, Chair of The Summit Group; Adrian Pisarski, from National Shelter; and Carol Croce from the Community Housing Federation of Australia, have a wealth of knowledge and accumulated experience in this field.

“We congratulate the Government for bringing such a diverse collective of experts together, spanning the community housing sector, private financial institutions, and tenants’ organisations.

“What’s also needed is for serious action to minimize inefficient investments encouraged under Australia’s tax system, which is contributing to our stratospheric housing costs and leading to more people seeking public housing.

“The tax system encourages people to borrow and invest too much in property, especially at the top end of the market. The low rate of tax on capital gains and the ability of taxpayers to deduct their investment losses against their wages were rightly targeted by the Henry Report. Reforms in these areas could be linked to well-targeted incentives to invest in new affordable housing. These are some of the proposals ACOSS will take to next week’s National Tax Forum.

“We need to find innovative ways to boost the supply of social housing for people in need if we are to prevent more people becoming homeless, and to have any chance of meeting the shortfall of around 150,000 social housing homes by 2020.

“For far too long the social housing system has been inadequate and we urge state governments of all political persuasion to work together with the Commonwealth on this crucial reform,” Dr Goldie said.

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