Federal Budget hits right tone but misses opportunities on rental affordability, social housing

The Federal Budget includes welcome funding for mental health and family violence as part of the road to recovery but misses key opportunities to address social housing and rental affordability, Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald said today.

Mr McDonald said he was pleased to see the Morrison Government take a stewardship role and shelve its debt and deficit rhetoric to help lead the country out of an economic downturn. But he also called on the government to develop a national rental affordability strategy, as rents drift out of reach of many ordinary Australians.

“Anglicare’s recent Rental Affordability Snapshot showed many people have left the cities for regional areas, snapping up the more affordable properties on offer there. According to our research, fewer than 10 per cent of the available properties in regional Victoria were suitable for any kind of low income household without putting them into housing stress,” he said.

“Not all young people have the Bank of Mum and Dad available to help them buy a house. This situation has now hit crisis point, and a golden opportunity has been missed to create jobs and help vulnerable people through investment in new social housing.”

Mr McDonald said the pandemic had led to high rates of domestic violence and mental health problems, and the new federal funding that has been announced will be important to meet this need.

“However, there is a direct link from the government’s cuts to the JobSeeker payment to hundreds of thousands of Australian children who have been pushed back below the poverty line,” he said.

“Child poverty is not a legacy any government should be proud of. Our financial counsellors are seeing client after client who are struggling to afford basics like food, rent and everyday essentials for their children.

“We saw first-hand that raising the level of unemployment payments to a level above the poverty line makes a huge difference to people’s quality of life and restores their dignity. Their mental health recovers, their relationships improve and they can afford clothes and haircuts that help them feel more confident while looking for work.

“More jobs are obviously important, but the government also has a role to play in providing relief for those in difficult circumstances – and that’s still a lot of people after the year we have just had.”

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