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. The Newstart rate is just $278 per week (plus Commonwealth Rent Assistance if eligible) to pay rent, bills, food, transport, and medical costs. As paying rent alone rarely costs less than $250 a week, and is usually more, people without employment face homelessness, or pay so much for rent they have very little left over for food. Recently a Deloitte economist, and former PM John Howard, have spoken up to say that Budget repair is less urgent than raising the dole

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

On Budget night, the Treasurer revealed the shocking news that social housing and homelessness funding would drop to $1.54 billion in 2018-19; a 16 per cent reduction from 2013-14. The decrease in funding has meant governments have built very little housing for low-income earners even as Australia’s population has swelled.  Because there’s not enough social housing, more people are becoming homeless, and when they do, homelessness services do not have any accommodation options, except rooming houses, motels and refuges, or worse, turning people back onto the street.

3.  Not increasing funding to homelessness services to increase demand

Homelessness increased by 14% over the five years to 2016, and more people are seeking homelessness help than ever before.  This includes a rising number of people who have jobs.  Despite this, federal funding for homelessness services has not increased in real terms and agencies are already turning away more than 250 people every day.  As more people come needing help, the failure to match funding to meet increasing need will mean services will be forced to turn away more people.

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 must work first before they are eligible for Centrelink payments. So if migrants lose their jobs, or gets sick, or they need to flee from family violence, they do not have any source of income to use to pay the rent.

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

When people are living in poverty fines can mount up.  This is particularly the case, if someone is also experiencing mental health problems.  People on very low incomes often need support to develop viable repayment plans.  Skimming already meagre social security payments so people simply can’t pay their rent is ruthless, and will certainly result in increased homelessness.

6. Reprising robodebt

Robodebt was slammed last year for sending out incorrect debt notices and putting vulnerable welfare recipients through the wringer, to track down payslips from as far back as seven years ago to prove their income was correctly declared. It created enormous stress, exacerbated mental health issues, and forced many people to pay back money that wasn’t even owed, leaving them short of funds to pay the rent and increasing risk of homelessness. Expanding the robodebt to more people, will only increase homelessness.

 

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.’