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Media Release by Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

Figures show rent assistance eases housing stress

Rent Assistance from the Australian Government has significantly improved housing affordability outcomes for certain sectors of the community, Minister for Community Services Senator Nigel Scullion said today.

In March 2007, Rent Assistance reduced the proportion of recipients who would need to spend more than 30 per cent of their income on rent from 65 per cent (if Rent Assistance was not provided) to 35 per cent (after Rent Assistance).

‘The rental circumstances of even more Australians will improve on January 1 2008 when Austudy recipients become eligible for Rent Assistance following changes in this year’s Budget,’ Senator Scullion.

‘These figures show that the Australian Government is playing its part by providing Rent Assistance to a million low income families a fortnight who are experiencing high rents in the private market.

‘The Australian Government provides more than 83 per cent of the total funds that are spent on housing assistance in this country including around $4.75 billion over 5 years for housing through the CSHA, and at least $2.2 billion per year in Rent Assistance.

‘In contrast, the states and territories levied housing and land taxes worth $13.2 billion on homebuyers in 2004/05. Our contribution is cancelled out by the housing affordability taxes slapped on transactions by the states.

‘The only reason the Australian Government is able to support renters so meaningfully through the Rent Assistance program is because we have the money in the bank due to responsible management of the economy.

‘The Australian Government will continue to manage the economy well in order to keep interest rates and unemployment levels at record lows to the benefit of all Australians – including renters and homebuyers,’ Senator Scullion said.