Welfare battlers struggle to find place to call home

PEOPLE on welfare payments living in regional areas are increasingly unable to find affordable rental properties, a national report has revealed.

The 2013 Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Snapshot, released yesterday, found people in regional areas were competing for just 3% of advertised properties costing less than 30% of welfare payments.

It also found people struggling on the minimum wage were competing for only marginally more properties in regional areas, at 6% of all advertised properties rated as "affordable".

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said the results were a distressing and shameful reflection on the nation.

Ms Chambers called for an investigation into the effectiveness of the Commonwealth Rent Assistance and laws and regulations constraining investment and growth in the housing market.

In Central Queensland, Gladstone was rated as the most expensive city for rental properties, while Rockhampton was the cheapest.

Older Australians were under the most financial pressure due to rent on the north coast and Clarence Valley regions of New South Wales.

Nationally, of more than 56,000 properties surveyed, Anglicare found only 1% and 2% of listings were affordable for singles and couples on welfare, respectively.

"Poor responses to varying cost pressures of housing markets and short-sighted decisions of governments have led invariably to Australia having one of the most expensive housing markets in the developed world," the report reads.

"As in years gone by, the 2013 snapshot highlights remarkably well that low incomes, like government payments and the minimum wage, are completely insufficient to cover costs in the Australian rental market."

The report also found regional areas were generally too expensive for anyone living on government payments, and only marginally less expensive for single people on minimum wage.

It also comes after the COAG Reform Council released its Affordable Housing Report 2010-11 last year, which also found rental affordability had worsened, especially for those on low incomes.

That report found rental stress for the lowest-paid Australians jumped from 49.2% in 2007-08 to 60.8% in 2010-11.

Australia Council of Social Services chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said the Anglicare report highlighted the need for more support for the nation's most disadvantaged groups.

Dr Goldie said it also reinforced repeated calls from the social services sector to increase the Newstart Allowance by $50

"At just $35 a day, people cannot survive on Newstart with any dignity, including being able to afford a roof over their head," she said.

"The Anglicare Report is another distressing example that adds to the overwhelming evidence that urgent action is required."

Regional property affordability for Australia's lowest paid:

* 2.6% were affordable for couples with two children on Newstart

* 1.3% affordable for singles with two children on Newstart

* 5.7% affordable for couples with no children on Aged Pension

* 1.7% affordable for singles with one child on Parenting Payment

* 0.3% affordable for singles with one child (over 8) on Newstart

* 1.9% affordable for singles on Aged Pension

* 0.8% single over 21 on Disability Support Pension

* 0.1% for singles on Newstart or Youth allowance alone or in share house

SOURCE: 2013 Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Snapshot.

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