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Report proves affordability remains a top issue for WA 08/05/2017

Over the last couple of years we have seen a dip in the average price of property across Western Australia.

Over the last couple of years we have seen a dip in the average price of property across Western Australia.

While the lower prices have provided an excellent opportunity to enter the property market for those in reliable employment, there remains a long-term housing affordability issue in WA, particularly for those on lower incomes.

Providing affordable housing for those on low and fixed incomes, including families, single parents, pensioners and students is an issue that must be addressed through government and private industry working together to provide enough stock to meet demand, along with ensuring policy frameworks support low-income households.

WA is currently experiencing higher unemployment (currently at 6.4 per cent) than any other state, except South Australia, along with growing underemployment. Therefore, it is more important than ever to provide people with affordable rental or purchasing opportunities.

The recent Rental Affordability Snapshot 2017 published by Anglicare Australia represents the need to increase social housing stock and remove tax distortions such as stamp duty to improve housing affordability across Australia.

In terms of WA, the research found that there was not a single affordable property available for rent for a single person living on Newstart or Youth Allowance and only five properties available that would be affordable to those on a Disability Support Pension (DSP). Anglicare defines ‘unaffordable’ as having to spend more than 30 per cent of household income on rent.

Furthermore, the report states that over 18,500 households in Western Australia are on a waitlist for social housing, meaning many require affordable private rentals in the meantime.

From an industry perspective, to provide more affordable housing, foremost is the need to ensure adequate land supply that can be delivered to the market in a fast and efficient manner.

That requires an accommodative policy and approvals framework and efficient decision-making capacity in local and state government departments to minimise the added costs of delays.

Along with providing more stock, it is also important to have the capacity to provide a diversity of housing to suit different people’s needs.

A policy framework that embraces innovation and encourages thinking outside the square would go a long way to fostering more affordable product to the marketplace.

As mentioned earlier, addressing distortive tax regimes such as the application of stamp duty is also critical. Stamp duty artificially inflates the cost of housing and limits people’s ability to move, including older people downsizing into more appropriate homes.

Overall, industry and government must continue to work together to ensure that all Western Australians can afford the basic right to a roof over their head.

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