Media Release by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

Social Housing Initiative creates jobs, is value for money

An independent review of the Social Housing Initiative has found it is well-administered, value for money and has achieved excellent outcomes for vulnerable Australians, the social housing sector, the construction industry, and the wider economy.

The Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Brendan O’Connor, today welcomed the release of the review, by KPMG, which analysed the program’s contribution to social housing supply, its impact on disadvantaged groups and its impact on the building and construction industries.

“The $5.6 billion Social Housing Initiative is the largest single investment in social housing by any Australian Government,” Mr O’Connor said.

“It forms part of the Federal Labor Government’s stimulus package, which was designed to keep the Australian economy strong through the global financial crisis while helping people on low incomes who are struggling in the private rental market or homeless.

“The review found the Social Housing Initiative has done all of this and more.

“It has exceeded its objectives of stimulating the construction industry, increasing the supply of social housing, providing long-term accommodation for homeless people and people at risk of homelessness, and delivering wider benefits to the Australian community.

The review confirmed the significant economic benefits of the Social Housing Initiative, including:

  • supporting about 9,000 full-time-equivalent jobs in the building industry alone, and 14,000 full-time-equivalent jobs overall
  • creating additional building activity worth about $1.5 billion per year
  • increasing overall GDP by 0.1 per cent
  • generating about $1.30 in total turnover in the economy for every $1 of building activity

“KPMG also found the program represented value for money, with more than 19,700 new social housing homes being built, exceeding targets by about 13 per cent”.  Mr O’Connor said.

“The repairs and maintenance element of the Social Housing Initiative has also delivered repairs to about 80,000 existing social housing homes, including major upgrades to about 12,000 that were vacant or would otherwise have become uninhabitable.

“Importantly, the review found the program has delivered high-quality social housing, with industry participants saying there was no discernible difference between private and social housing, and with almost all of the homes achieving 6-star energy rating and adaptability.

“The Social Housing Initiative has also had an overwhelmingly positive impact for social housing tenants, benefiting about 24,000 individuals, the majority whom were very vulnerable, including families who were homeless or at risk of homelessness, senior Australians, Indigenous Australians and people with disability.

“It is also building the capacity of the community housing sector, providing leveraging opportunities for community housing authorities for future growth.

“As well as the $5.6 billion under the Social Housing Initiative, the Gillard Government provides the States and Territories $1.3 billion a year for affordable housing.

“Without the Social Housing Initiative, the number of houses available to our most disadvantaged would have declined nationwide.

“There’s not much point in the Federal Government putting money in if it leads to the States taking money out. So in future I want to inject more accountability and transparency into all our Commonwealth-State agreements.”