The next federal government is urged to look to the Northern Hemisphere for possible solutions to Australia’s housing and rental crises.
Most important points:
The federal government has been urged to draft a national plan to solve Australia’s housing crisis Industry leaders warn clear targets are needed around providing affordable housing. Scotland’s housing policy is considered a credible approach for Australia to consider
The Coalition and Labor have each used the election campaign to outline how they would help people move up the property ladder if elected on Saturday.
But Hal Pawson, professor of housing research and policy at the University of New South Wales, said longer-term solutions could be found in Scotland’s housing policy.
“Scotland’s Strategy [has] got a huge amount of dust, very unlike its Australian equivalent,” said Professor Pawson.
“It correctly defines the problems it is trying to address [and] proposes corrective actions that appear to manage them.
“NSW’s so-called housing strategy doesn’t do all those things.”
Affordable housing and net zero
Scotland’s policies focus on providing more affordable housing, tackling high rents, decarbonizing homes, and creating jobs.
“Housing to 2040” promises to build 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, 70 percent of which are social rent.
They will be carbon neutral, have digital connectivity, and be built with the local infrastructure, creating so-called “20-minute neighborhoods” where local services are a short drive away.
Scotland’s 32 local authorities and housing companies will bid on an £18bn slice of financing.
The Scottish Government’s housing strategy aims to build 110,000 affordable homes by 2032. (Supplied: Scottish Government)
“To be blunt, it’s about our political choice around [how we use] our capital financing,” said Shona Robison, the country’s secretary of housing.
Although it is an ambitious goal, the country is taking shape.
Scotland has built 108,000 affordable homes since 2007, most of which are social housing.
“It’s about affordable housing to ensure everyone has a safe, affordable home to live in, whether that’s rent or cheap home ownership,” said Ms. Robison.
“The spin-off benefit is that we can also link our net-zero ambitions to make those homes more affordable in terms of operating costs and help achieve our net-zero climate change goals.”
Scotland’s housing secretary, Shona Robison, says her country has made housing central to its economic vision. (Supplied: Scottish Government)
Professor Pawson, on the other hand, said Australia hadn’t invested well in social and affordable housing for decades.
“It’s been about 25 years since Australia stopped a routine annual social housing scheme,” he said.
“Since 1996, our population has grown by 40 percent and the social housing stock by 4 percent.
“So, in other words, we have failed to grow the capacity of that system to meet the need, and so the shortage and the pressure on that system has increased.”
Ms. Robison said her country’s approach could be replicated elsewhere.
“I’d recommend it as a program and a good investment that ticks some boxes,” she said.
Leaders in the housing sector say Australia needs a national plan that sets cost targets regarding the number of affordable homes required. (ABC News: John Gunn)
Read more about the Australian real estate market:
‘No national approach’
Professor Pawson and other leaders in the housing sector say the lack of a national strategy hurts Australia.
“I think it’s partly about federal investment” [and] it’s also about federal leadership. We haven’t had either in recent years,” Professor Pawson said.
The head of NSW housing provider Housing Plus, David Fisher, agreed.
“The real impediments are the lack of a cohesive national, state-level plan that sets clear goals about how much property, what type of property, and the right type of financing agreements to put in place to make that happen,” he said. †
“Such a plan gives anyone in the market the platform to buy the land, engage builders, and start delivering those additional homes needed.”
Professor Hal Pawson says the Australian approach to housing has given government support to parts of the market, such as private ownership. (ABC News: Jerry Rickard)
Mr. Fisher and Professor Pawson have criticized the NSW government’s housing strategy, describing it as a “blank document” that does not set firm, budgeted targets.
A spokesman for NSW’s housing secretary, Anthony Roberts, said the state had increased its social housing by 10 percent over the past decade.
The spokesperson said all levels of government, the private sector, and communities should work together to increase supply.
Professor Pawson also blames a lack of investment over the past 25 years for Australia’s current situation.
He said governments had created an “overly preferential” system toward property ownership.
“The value of tax breaks for owner-occupiers and private landlords is about $100 billion annually. It’s a phenomenal amount,” he said.
“We’re talking huge amounts there that are a form of government support for parts of the housing market.”
Find more local news.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, and up and down hands for volume. Viewing Duration: 2 minutes 7 seconds 2m 7s What Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese choose is to tell about what’s happening. Casey Briggs explains.