Seven things in the Federal Budget that will create more homelessness


Budget measures announced last week – intended as savings – are going to throw vulnerable households into devastating circumstances, without the income they need to keep a roof over their head.  In response, CHP is calling for a bipartisan approach to block measures that will actually lead to more homelessness.  

Here are seven things in the Federal Budget that will cause more people to loose their homes

Seven things in the Federal Budget that will create more homelessness #auspol #Budget2018 Click To Tweet

1. Failing to #RaiseTheRate of Newstart

The government continues to ignore growing calls for the federal government to #RaiseTheRate of Newstart and Youth Allowance, which has not increased in real terms in 24 years. It means that the unemployed have just $278 per week (plus Commonwealth Rent Assistance if they’re eligible) to pay the rent, bills, food, transport, medical costs. Even a Deloitte economist has spoken up to say that Budget repair is less urgent than raising unemployment payments

2. Ignoring the need for more social housing that people on low incomes can afford

Australia used to be a country where keeping a roof over your head didn’t leave you so poor that you couldn’t put food on the table. But today half of low-income renters pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs, leaving little over for the basics of life, especially for those who have children.

The population is increasing, but governments have fallen way behind in building enough housing for low-income earners. Because there’s not enough social housing, homelessness agencies are placing people in rooming houses, motels and refuges, or worse, turning them back onto the street.

3. Reducing funding to homelessness services

In his Budget speech, the Treasurer revealed the shocking news that social housing and homelessness funding would drop to $1.54 billion in 2018-19; a 16 percent decline over five years. We guess they haven’t heard the news that there are more people needing homelessness help than ever before, including a rising number of people who have jobs. We need more funding to cope with the deluge, not less. Agencies are already turning away hundreds of people every day, and less funding just means that we’ll be forced to turn away more.

Number of people seeking homelessness help, against federal spending on social housing and homelessness

 

4. Migrants will not be allowed to access Newstart and other welfare benefits until they have lived in Australia for four years

The Treasurer says migrants should work first before they are eligible for Centrelink payments. Too bad if you lose your job, your casual shifts are cut back or you get sick and can no longer hold down your job. The Treasurer expects you to pay the rent with nothing but air.

5. Deducting money from unemployment payments to pay back unpaid court fines

We agree that people should be accountable for fines they’ve incurred, but skimming already meagre social security payments is ruthless. People need a chance to put payment plans in place, manage other debts that they might be paying off, and make sure they have enough money to pay the rent so they’re not evicted.  It’s pointless to claw-back outstanding fines if someone is left homeless in the process.

6. Reprising robodebt

If the Government’s track record on robodebt is anything to go by, this will not end well. Robodebt was slammed last year for sending out incorrect debt notices and putting the often-vulnerable welfare recipients through the wringer to track down payslips from as far back as seven years to prove their income was correctly declared. It created enormous stress, exacerbated mental health issues, and lead some people to pay back money that wasn’t even owed, leaving them short for other things like… umm… rent and food?

 

7. Subjecting Community Development Program (CDP) participants to the new Jobseeker demerit points compliance framework

Reforms of the CDP announced in the Budget include extending the Jobseeker Compliance Framework introduced in the Welfare Reform Bill for Newstart recipients to CDP participants. This demerit points system is expected to increase the numbers of participants subject to payment reductions and cancellations, increasing hardship in Aboriginal communities and increasing homelessness.  

 

CHP CEO Jenny Smith is saying ‘Australians want to see action on homelessness, but our leaders don’t seem to be listening. We’re encouraging every Australian to call on the Government to take action directly by signing the Everybody’s Home petition to end homelessness.’