Labor unveils massive scheme to help renters

Labor estimates its rental scheme will see the construction of 250,000 rent-controlled homes.

Labor estimates its rental scheme will see the construction of 250,000 rent-controlled homes. Photo: AAP

Bill Shorten will pledge to help build 250,000 rent-controlled new homes in Australia today as he launches his policy platform at the ALP platform.

The Labor leader will put housing affordability at the centre of his election pitch in a major speech in Adelaide to party faithful.

Buiding on Labor’s plans to reform negative gearing to put downward pressure on house prices to help first home buyers, the new policy is designed to help renters.

It will offer investors up to $8500 per year if they build new houses – conditional on being rented at 20 per cent below market rent.

The ALP predicts up to 250,000 new units and houses could be built over the next decade with a pledge to build 20,000 new units and houses in the first term of government.

“These properties would be available to rent to eligible Australians – including those on low and moderate incomes – taking pressure off budgets and helping people save,” Mr Shorten said.

A house for rent.

Labor has already unveiled plans to assist home buyers. Now it’s renters’ turn for a helping hand. Photo: Getty

“A family paying the national rental average of $462 a week could save $92 a week under Labor’s plan.

“Labor’s plan will provide investors with certainty to build – knowing that they will have long term government support and guarantees beyond the decade.

“The existing rental scheme – the National Rental Affordability Scheme – has attracted private investment of approximately $12.9 billion to deliver 37,000 affordable rental dwellings in the ten years since 2008.”

The big-spending policy is worth just $102 million over the forward estimates but $6.6 billion over the next decade. Labor is citing research that there is a shortage of up to 500,000 affordable rental properties in Australia.

Mr Shorten accused the Liberals of abandoning affordable housing and axing the subsidies that encourage affordable housing.

Adani bill shorten

Bill the Builder: Opposition leader Bill Shorten says Labor’s plan will help renters and boost the construction industry. Photo: AAP

“There is a severe shortage of affordable rental housing in Australia and many families are struggling to find and keep a roof over their heads. The number of Australians experiencing rental and mortgage stress is at record levels,” he said.

But Labor’s own record of housing affordability policies under the Rudd-Gillard government was a controversial failure.

Last year, the Federal Government axed the $9 billion National Housing Affordability Agreement following a report that the states and territories had failed to meet almost every benchmark set by the scheme.

It had not delivered any measurable improvement in housing affordability.  One in five of the public housing residences was not in an acceptable state and 8 per cent was uninhabitable.

The ALP believes it can work with community housing providers, the residential construction sector and institutional investors.

“The plan will support Labor’s negative gearing reforms which direct concessions to newly built premises and encourage housing construction,” Mr Shorten said.

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