NATION Rent to be paid out of welfare
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.