This year’s Snapshot compares the affordability of available rental properties in Perth and parts of regional Western Australia before and after the introduction of the temporary $550 fortnightly Coronavirus Supplement, which began being paid to recipients this week.
The Snapshot showed the Supplement has increased affordable rentals in WA; before the increase, in Perth only one listing was affordable to someone receiving the Jobseeker payment – a bedroom let for $90pw, now the rent on 51 properties is less than 30 percent of JobSeeker, which is considered affordable.
Anglicare WA CEO Mark Glasson said it doesn’t seem like a significant rise in affordability but doubling the JobSeeker payment (formerly Newstart), Youth Allowance and Parenting payments to all new and existing recipients has eased financial pressures significantly.
“We’re talking the difference between being able to buy enough food to last the fortnight, or rely on food from charities and emergency relief,” said Mr Glasson.
“It’s a no-brainer. The increase in JobSeeker and other government payments is an admission that $550 a fortnight is simply not enough to live on. We’re seeing people who for the first time are looking forward to paying bills on time or simply starting to save money.
“Families on JobSeeker can now afford 30 percent of available rentals. This lifts the financial pressure and anxiety from parents, who will be able to provide more regular meals for their children, and even ensure they can return to school in the right uniform.
“With unemployment forecast to remain high for many years to come, it would be inhumane to force people already struggling to get a job, back onto $40 a day within six months. This snapshot shows the real benefit of improving the social safety net.”
Mr Glasson also encouraged Premier Mark McGowan to address limited stock of affordable housing and support vulnerable Western Australians beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
“The Premier has the opportunity to create thousands of jobs, whilst reducing homelessness, by investing in a public infrastructure program to build much needed social housing. Not only would it address the housing market failure for low income earners, it would create a construction stimulus for the WA economy at the same time.
“We also need increases to State Government energy assistance initiatives and rebates to be made permanent as the economic and social impacts of Coronavirus will last longer than six months."