Australians doing it tough will get a boost in their rental support payments from today, but one advocacy group says the increase isn’t enough to beat back the housing stress crushing families across the country.
The maximum rate of rental assistance for singles has increased to $184.80 a fortnight, a $27.60 boost, while payments to a family with one or two children has increased $32.34 to $217.28.
But Everybody’s Home spokeswoman Maiy Azize said rents in many areas had increased by hundreds of dollars a week in the past three years and reform was needed in the support payment to ensure it could meet the crisis.
“This increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance is welcome but it will be swallowed by the high cost of rents and further hikes,” Ms Azize said.
“Today’s increase to the payment won’t be enough to lift many renters out of housing stress and many vulnerable people will miss out on the rise entirely.”
Ms Azize said the payment, a non-taxable income supplement, should be indexed to average rent increases, meaning it would rise with any corresponding rent rise.
“As rents have soared since the pandemic, rent assistance has not been keeping pace,” she said.
“Rent assistance needs a major shake up, it must be indexed to better reflect rent paid and help people who need it the most.”
Rents has risen sharply across much of the country as demand for housing continues to outstrip available supply.
The latest vacancy rates for August show a punishing rental market.
In Adelaide, the rental vacancy rate is 0.5 per cent, while in Perth it is 0.4 per cent.
The national vacancy rate stands at 1.2 per cent.
“Reforming the payment will provide immediate relief to renters but the key solution to fixing the rental crisis is building enough social housing to end the huge shortfall,” Ms Azize said.
Governments are moving to address supply shortages.
Last week, the federal government secured support for its $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund, which will funnel earnings thrown off by the fund to build out more social and affordable housing.
In South Australia, Premier Peter Malinauskas has cut out local councils from planning consent requirements for new homes within masterplanned greenfields zones, meaning builds that meet basic criteria can bypass the council process and go directly to the building consent and final development approval phases.