NA­TION Rent to be paid out of wel­fare

Townsville Bulletin - - NATION - KYLAR LOUSSIKIAN

PUB­LIC hous­ing ten­ants will have rent de­ducted from wel­fare pay­ments un­der a Turn­bull gov­ern­ment plan to stop peo­ple run­ning up huge debts.

Nearly 9000 house­holds in so­cial hous­ing owe more than three weeks rent, and more than 2300 peo­ple lose hous­ing ev­ery year be­cause they fall too far be­hind in their pay­ments.

The gov­ern­ment hopes the Au­to­matic Rent De­duc­tion Scheme will stop peo­ple on wel­fare pri­ori­tis­ing other pur­chases and cre­ate se­cu­rity to en­sure pri­vate de­vel­op­ers build more so­cial hous­ing.

Hu­man Ser­vices Min­is­ter Alan Tudge said so­cial hous­ing sys­tems across the coun­try were los­ing more than $ 30 mil­lion a year from un­paid rent.

“This is one of a num­ber of mea­sures the gov­ern­ment is in­tro­duc­ing to en­cour­age pri­vate in­vest­ment in so­cial hous­ing and con­se­quently in­crease the avail­abil­ity of af­ford­able hous­ing,” Mr Tudge told the Bul­letin.

“Se­cure hous­ing for those on wel­fare is an im­por­tant pri­or­ity for the gov­ern­ment ... we must not for­get those who are re­ally in most need of our as­sis­tance and this scheme will help them with se­cure hous­ing.”

From next March, so­cial hous­ing ten­ants would have their rent paid to their hous­ing provider be­fore they re­ceived wel­fare pay­ments.

All states ex­cept Vic­to­ria, Tas­ma­nia and the ACT have signed on, with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment ex­pected to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion within months.

There is now a vol­un­tary rent de­duc­tion sys­tem, but fig­ures show more than 26,000 of the 398,000 wel­fare re­cip­i­ents us­ing the sys­tem had can­celled pay­ments, some sev­eral times.

The Bul­letin un­der­stands the Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices is also wor­ried some wel­fare re­cip­i­ents, par­tic­u­larly those vul­ner­a­ble be­cause of a men­tal ill­ness, are be­ing ex­ploited fi­nan­cially.

In one case, a 45- year- old man with schizophre­nia who also suf­fers from anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion was found to be reg­u­larly can­celling rental de­duc­tions for his home to give money to other peo­ple.

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