Here’s a cute Budget conundrum that fits in with our housing obsession. A booming real estate market has helped underpin the economic growth that made the Budget surplus possible – and that the government wants to continue by getting as many people as possible participating in the workplace.
Trouble is that a booming real estate market makes real estate expensive. Many of the same people the government says it wants to get from benefits into the workforce can only afford cheap housing options. Cheap housing is cheap because there’s little demand for it – often because it’s not located where work is. Think of all those country welfare ghetto horror stories you hear about. Moe, anyone?
The treasurer was at pains on Tuesday night to explain the special employment assistance that will be on offer to get sole parents and disability pensioners into the workforce. That’s fine – but along with a means of support, a roof over your head is regarded as a basic necessity, too. Many people on welfare and low incomes have to make the “choice” – if they want to find affordable housing – to live in places that are nowhere near employment options or the training and assistance needed to find one.
Welfare to work – but how do you get home? That’s part of the equation. Public housing is terribly unfashionable – and is a state responsibility – but the private sector can’t deliver the solutions, either, without more rent assistance. And that’s your responsibility, treasurer.
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