Centrelink offices around Australia have been inundated with people attempting to register for the Jobseeker allowance in the wake of business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AAP Image/James Ross)
Centrelink offices around Australia have been inundated with people attempting to register for the Jobseeker allowance in the wake of business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AAP Image/James Ross)

MP responds to rental affordability report

WITH his response to a housing affordability study, Page MP Kevin Hogan may have left more questions than answers.

Anglicare North Coast recently called for an increase to welfare payments following the release of their annual Rental Affordability Snapshot which showed the impact of doubled JobKeeper payments on rental affordability.

When asked whether Anglicare’s findings made him think differently about raising the Jobseeker rate permanently, Mr Hogan offered a somewhat ambiguous take on the issue.

“With regards to Jobkeeper and Jobseeker, we may need to have some flexibility with this as we come out of the shutdown,” he said.

Just what “flexibility” means for those on Jobseeker payments remains to be seen but organisations who have been calling for a rate-rise will be hoping it is a sign of movement on the issue.

Mr Hogan’s earlier forays into the debate on raising Jobseeker (formerly Newstart) payments had the MP pointing out that it already rose twice a year.

In the lead up to last year’s Federal election he mentioned it rose twice yearly due along with the Consumer Price Index and maintained that “99 per cent of Newstart recipients also receive other payments”.

As late as March he repeated comments on a twice-yearly rise pegged to CPI after his Nationals colleague Pat Conaghan broke ranks and called for the rate to be raised by $75 a week.

Mr Hogan was also not giving much away on his thoughts on the Snapshot itself or how the Government was working towards increasing housing affordability in the community.

“I am hearing anecdotally that rent and housing affordability issues are easing due to the economic effects of COVID-19,” he said.

However, while Anglicare expect “major disruptions” to the local rental market, their report noted new properties entering the market may not be available for those on low incomes.

“There are stories of many properties flooding back into the rental market as the AirBnB market collapses,” the report states.

“It’s important to remember that many of these properties were never within reach for renters on low incomes.

“Their return to the long-term rental market will not necessarily offer relief for the households we survey.”

By running the rule over 955 private rental properties from Tweed to Port Macquarie over a single weekend in March, the Anglicare snapshot showed just 19 were suitable for at least one household on income support.

That figure rose to 122 when the coronavirus payment was factored in, leading to Anglicare’s calls for the increases to become permanent.



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