Productivity Commission advocates rise in rental assistance

The Productivity Commission has recommended a dramatic overhaul of the public housing sector, including a rise in rental assistance payments.

The commission released on Friday a wide-ranging report advocating reform to the state and federal human services sector, recommending changes to social housing, health and palliative care, and community services.

The commission has recommended that the system for public housing, where rents are set at a proportion of the tenant’s income, is replaced and that the federal government extend Commonwealth Rent Assistance to public housing tenants while increasing the payments by about 15 per cent to reflect increased rent.

Extending rental assistance payments to people in public housing would give low-income earners the same opportunities as their counterparts in private rentals, the report said.

Shelter Tas executive officer Pattie Chugg said state government data showed that take-up of private rental assistance had fallen because of the lack of affordable private rental housing.

“For people to be able to exercise real housing choices, there must be an adequate supply of affordable rental housing,” she said.

“We know there is shortage of supply – well over 14,000 households in Tasmanian are living in rental stress.

“The recent Rental Affordability Index showed many households on low incomes having to pay more than 50 per cent of their income on rents.”

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