Friday, October 14, 2016

Please, may we have some more?

The proposed transfer of 18,000 Public Housing properties to Community Housing landlords is as fine an example of placing your policy burden on somebody else's bottom line as ever you might see...

We hear every so often from the Australian Government about its debt and deficit worries. The significance of that debt is questionable, and it's low by international standards, but for the sake of the argument let’s accept the need for budget repair.

The NSW Government, on the other hand is completely debt free. It's hoarding a handy $4.7billion surplus, largely from a buoyant stamp duty take on the back of Sydney's eye-watering house prices over the last few years. Stamp duty has rapidly grown from about 20% of the state’s tax revenue just a few short years ago, to nearly 30% today, increasing from $4.5billion to $8.3billion in the last tax year.

One of the selling points of transferring properties to Community Housing is tapping the de facto subsidy for Community Housing landlords that's known as Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA). For people on low incomes, such as a Centrelink benefit or a minimum wage, CRA helps offset the high cost of renting in Australia by adding a few extra dollars to your take-home payments. Community Housing landlords calculate the rent to maximise their tenants' CRA entitlements, then take the lot. This is a nifty way for a state government to draw on federal money to fund their agreed Social Housing responsibilities.

The media release in which Minister Hazzard announced the Social Housing Management Transfer Program suggested it would give Community Housing landlords an extra billion dollars over the next twenty years. That's a billion dollars of federal money, delivered via individual tenants on account of their entitlements to CRA, in case we hadn't made that clear.

If the NSW Government, rich with the take from Sydney’s sustained property largesse, wanted to chuck a lazy billion dollars at the Social Housing system in order to improve it for tenants, it could very easily do so without adding to our apparent federal spending woes - or at least, without dipping into the only national scheme designed to assist tenants in the private rental market. If it really wanted to, it could do this more than once every twenty years or so without putting too much strain on the bank.

It's just a matter of priorities.

1 comment:

  1. Housing NSW, FACS, is trying to palm off its responsibilities to the Federal Government.

    It has ignored their responsibility for years, regarding maintenance, and will now transfer properties, that have been so poorly maintained/deteriorated to almost a point of no return.
    It has ignored the repair or maintenance for so long, and have provided little or very little for new properties.

    Housing NSW, FACS dwellers have been given very little information.

    It will happen, according to the last letter I received, but it will happen sometime between mid 2017 and 2020.


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