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‘Reset’ tax system to fund social, affordable housing

The Councils of Social Service (COSS) network 2 mins read

Media Release | Monday 13 November 2023

The nation’s peak bodies for the community sector will gather in Hobart tomorrow to call on state, territory and federal ministers to ‘reset’ the tax system to drastically boost funding for social and affordable housing, as well as frontline homelessness services.

The Councils of Social Service (COSS) network, representing thousands of community sector organisations, have penned an open letter to urge states, territories and the Commonwealth to agree to a sweeping overhaul of housing and homelessness policies at next Monday’s meeting of housing ministers in Canberra and as part of the National Housing and Homelessness Plan.

Community sector bodies are calling on ministers to agree to establish state-based targets to boost social housing stock to meet forecast demand over the next decade as part of the national plan, to further strengthen tenants rights, as well as the establishment of a ‘fit-for-purpose’ agreement to boost funding for specialist homelessness services.

Alongside a massive increase in affordable housing stock, the letter says a proportion of all new government-funded social housing must be set aside for First Nations people, with the specific proportion based on relative need in each state and territory.

It also urges a ‘resetting’ of the tax system through a reduction over time of the capital gains tax discount and negative gearing deductions for property investors, an immediate boost to income support payments including JobSeeker and Commonwealth Rent Assistance, nationally consistent yearly limits on rental increases tied to the housing component of CPI and a blanket ban on no-grounds evictions. 

“Australia’s utterly broken housing system is causing a tsunami of homelessness as people on low incomes are locked out of the private rental market and have nowhere left to go,” ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, said.

“As property investors enjoy surging house prices, people on low incomes are choosing between eating and keeping a roof over their heads in an unworkable private rental market squeezed by surging prices and record low vacancies. 

“Frontline homelessness services are doing everything they can, but current funding is simply not adequate to keep up with surging demand for help.

“We welcome moves by federal and state governments so far to strengthen rights for renters so far, and the development of a 10-year national housing plan, but the job is not done. The answers are right in front of us: crackdown on unfair tax concessions enjoyed by investors, massively boost social and affordable housing supply, fund homelessness services adequately, raise the rate of income support, cap rental increases and establish nationally consistent tenancy protections including from evictions into homelessness.”

There are more than 640,000 low income households experiencing housing insecurity, who are either living in overcrowded housing, paying more than 30 per cent of income on rent or experiencing homelessness.

“The extent and complexity of the crisis is clear,” the open letter signed by heads of Australia’s social services peaks says.

“The housing crisis in Australia requires long-term commitments and immediate action to address the current distressing levels of unmet housing need. Without government intervention, housing will continue to be unaffordable and insecure for many people on low and moderate incomes.”

For national queries, contact:
ACOSS, 0419 626 155

For state-based queries, contact:
NTCOSS, 0429 515 013
QCOSS, 0481 854 101
SACOSS, 0421 226 722
TASCOSS, 0419 769 253
VCOSS, 0418 127 153
WACOSS, 0421 505 557

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