HomeBuilder ‘fails’ those doing it tough, say agencies

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“If you’ve been putting off that renovation or new build, the extra $25,000 we’re putting on the table, along with record-low interest rates, means now’s the time to get started,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he announced details of the government’s HomeBuilder program.

The aim is to boost demand in the construction sector and keep builders employed. But will it assist the right people to improve their lives?

Callers to various radio stations this morning are adamant it will not, as are key welfare agencies.

“I live in north Queensland and my back steps are falling down and unsafe. I can’t afford to fix them. But this will not help me,” said one caller.

Another said: “I’m 76 and my bathroom needs a major update to seal leakages and repair flooring. I qualify from an income perspective but I can’t spend $150,000 [the minimum required spend for a renovation].”

And another: “I live in the country and would love to take advantage of this scheme, but my house is only valued at $75,000 so I’m out of luck.”

HomeBuilder offers grants of $25,000 to eligible owner-occupiers – individuals who earned up to $125,000 last financial year or couples who earned up to $200,000 – who want to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing one. But … you need to be planning to build a new home valued at up to $750,000 (including land) or wish to renovate your home, valued at less than $1.5 million, with works of between $150,000 and $750,000.

There is no plan – at least none that has been announced – to provide for people such as those above or more social housing. And renters are left high and dry.

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers describes the program as a “lost opportunity”.

“Renters are on the frontline of this downturn,” she said. “Many are losing their incomes, and some are scared of losing their homes.

“Anglicare Australia’s 2020 Rental Affordability Snapshot shows that renters on low incomes were in crisis even before the pandemic. With this downturn due to last for years and so many Australians losing their jobs, record numbers of people are at risk of poverty and homelessness.”

She says there is a shortfall of 500,000 social and affordable rentals across the country, and a homelessness crisis that is getting worse. A simple solution would be to finance more social housing, she says, arguing that more people would get a roof over their heads and the economy would get a badly needed boost.

“Today’s announcement was a lost opportunity to end our social housing shortfall and help people in need. Instead we’re back to business as usual – handing out money to people who can already afford to renovate or invest,” Ms Chambers said.

“Social housing projects would create more jobs than renovations or grants for new builds. Modelling released just yesterday shows that social housing investment would boost construction by $15.7 billion and boost GDP by $6.7 billion.

 “It would also create 24,500 jobs in the regions that need them the most.

 “This kind of boost is much stronger than lining the kitchens and bathrooms of people who can already afford it.”

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has also condemned the scheme.

Chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie says the recession will see more and more people struggling to pay rent, leading to greater homelessness and placing more pressure on social housing.

“We should be focusing on ensuring everyone has a roof over their head, not on government support for people who are relatively well off to upgrade their roofs,” she says.

“We have a massive shortfall of social housing and there is clear agreement from Master Builders Australia, the CFMEU and community groups for a national social housing construction program of about 30,000 homes.

“There is also dire need for repairs and renovations of existing social housing dwellings that workers could get started on next week.”

Dr Goldie argues that such funds should also be used to install solar panels and improve energy efficiency in low-income homes to ease the winter bill shock.

“We must work together to get out of this recession, not leave people behind and out in the cold without a home,” she said.

Shadow housing minister Jason Clare has also questioned the targeting of the $688 million scheme, arguing that “not everyone has $150,000” to throw around.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said while there was “nothing wrong with supporting private housing”, the government needed to have a comprehensive plan that also dealt with social housing. “That’s the big weakness in the package,” he said.

Are you supportive of HomeBuilder? Is it money going to the wrong people? Have low-income Australians been overlooked?

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Written by Janelle Ward

86 Comments

Total Comments: 86
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    This package would have to be the dumbest thing they have done yet, who has $150,000 lazy ones hanging around to get 25 grand…. Who the hell thinks of these things, a 2 year old…

    They want people to carry more debt to the banks which means less money to spend in the economy…..

    DOPES

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      Agree 100%!!!!!

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      Very true panos but, why in hell are taxpayers subsidising the rich?

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      They are an unlimited resource of tax dollars…..

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      Agree Panos. Morrison is a charlatan, and he proves this over and ove again.
      This LNP govenrnment is all about looking after the rich and big end of town.
      Morrison won’t even concede that ROBODEBT was unlawful, cruel and malicious, yet we leave him at the Lodge as our PM. Morrison was the architect of the ROBODEBT scheme, yet he tries to justify its integrity. What a disgraceful human being.
      He is a gisgrace to the human race.
      The spooner he is purged from our society the better, and good riddance.

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      What a sick joke this is – you have to spend $150,000 to get $25,000!! I don’t know too many people around that would have that much spare cash floating around for this. Just shows you what a different world the government lives in to ordinary folk.

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    The scheme was only ever designed to help affluent LNP voters. What does everyone expect, this is the LNP returning to its core business.

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    My situation is that I live in a cyclone area, I found after I bought the place, (really hard to see this) that some roof had gone in Larry and a glossy ‘cardboard box’ replaced the original bathroom/laundry, – unfortunately it was not really attached to the rest of the house.
    As Yasi approached I did quite a lot of nailing down, welding a major corner support to a deep foundation, placing a long timber support which attached to the ends of the original roof so that was all supported and inter-connected, – survived Yasi, then found the whole side of the house connected to that wasn’t, so designed a new long timber support with lotsa connections and big steel supports, brackets connectors etc and the missing guttering, so for years got all this together, all the coach screws, drivers, electrical tools, timber, steel, Big cold gal underground anchors, etc, etc, – would cost many thousands to get again, but severe Arthritus intervened, so what an opportunity, – a grant that basically only provides labour, if you provide the more expensive Material portion, – and the Labour is what needs to be supported to keep the building industry alive, so my job should be perfect, – although relatively small, still many a mickle makes a muckle, so I am very interested to hear if I will be eligible for this grant, – an appropriate one for such a small community as mine, as well, so very interested to see if I will be eligible, – probably only a few hundred dollars of labour, but that enough to allow a competent tradesman to live for another week.

    Will I get that Grant? We will see.

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      The answer is No by what you have put forward… important thing is do you have $150,000 in cash or borrowings…if the answer is no your out of luck

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    A family member updated the bathroom, added a room, increased the size of another room and added a front porch. The job was finished last month and cost a shade over $200,000. The family member is not rich, does not have much more than average income and could hardly be called “rich” (whatever the definition of that is). My point is that not a lot of work needs to be done to exceed the $150,000 limit.

    In case you missed it, Australia is in a recession and any time there has been a recession, the first group to feel the effects is the building industry. This program has been designed to boost the building industry. To those who knock the proposed scheme, it’s easy to sit back and criticise, not so easy to come up with a viable alternative. If there is a better way I’m sure that it will be listened to.

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      Must have been a big renovation for $200,000 large. or they got ripped

      You make it sound like it was only a small reno. Pity they missed out on the 25,000 extra could have added a new kitchen.

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      Horace don’t dress it up,the ordinary Joe Blow doesn’t have $150,000 under their bed mate,if this was a grant of say $25,000 for your $25.000 it might have more support,$150,000 is a lot of money to spend on a renovation…..but not if your in group that earns a big salary….and I mean big.

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      The answer to help the building trades Horace Cope is public housing which will also help low or no income earners.
      Public housing worked in the 50’s through to the 80’s until state governments decided to abandon the scheme.
      Public housing benefits a lot more than just tradies etc it benefits society

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      For 200 grand Horace your relative must have added a ballroom.
      Missed out again, we already had our renovations done back in 2012, no added rooms but renovated kitchen, bathroom, en-suite, laundry (same basic designs as original, all new cabinetry with manufactured stone benchtops, glass splashbacks, new sinks and plumbing, new shower screens, refurbished bath), replaced some Al sliding doors with French doors and completely replaced, from ground up, our 7m x 4m deck and 12-tread steps plus some electrical work installing down-ights, new stove top and oven and extractor fan. Total cost a tad under $70000, although I did do some of the work myself with the help of family (ie demolishing and removing the old, painting the new and nailing down the decking etc). If I had sat back and had everything done I cannot see the cost going over $100000 total (even if we included the $8000 for PV solar panels).
      I really wonder just where this governments priorities lie. After building up a stock of political capital during the Covid-19 crisis they appear determined to throw it all away with a scheme designed to benefit only those who would vote for them anyway. Most people do not want to spend, nor could they afford, anywhere near $150k yet their need is the same, if not greater, as those who can. For instance having a bathroom or kitchen renovated and/or modified to make living easier and accommodate ones needs in our later years.

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      Horace Cope, your family member is either rich or stupid. Got their money way too easily if they spent that much for so little value. Sorry, but that’s just ridiculous waste. You can build a new five-bedroom house for around $250,000!

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      Youngagain, if you are impressed with a 5 bed volume build for $250K, then that says more about you than Horace’s reno. You would need to see the plans to make an informed sense of value. Some people are happy at the budget end of the market while others may step a level in class and finish. Eddy, you’re dreaming if you think labour component for your job is only worth $30k – the deck and steps would be $10k alone. You guys need to get out more.

      I did a reno over 20 years ago that only added one bedroom but cost more than $120k so for me it’s not so hard to see how two rooms, an extension and a porch might shade $200k by the time you add up costs for electrical, plaster, floors, painting and decorating. (fwiw, improved value on rates notice was $37k – it was an old house)

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      Farside, I must be smarter than the average person then, because I helped a relative build a house that cost $280,000 and it rivalled one that sold for $1 million – luxury finishes throughout. And I did not say I was ‘impressed’ with a build for $250,000, but anyone who spends $200,000 on the limited amount Horace described is throwing money in the fire. $120,000 for one extra bedroom, 20 years ago? You were thoroughly ripped off. Sorry.

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      Don’t be sorry Youngagain, I would be more than happy if I could be “ripped off” like that again. The reno actually added many times more than its cost to the house value and we were able to enjoy it for more than 20 years. You really have no idea if you only measure value in a renovation by the amount of square metres that are added. It’s in the name i.e. renovation.

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    We certainly don’t have $150,000, in fact we don’t even have a spare $50,000 so no extra money for us to pay for renovations that my old house needs. We’re lucky that I can use a sander and paint brush, so we can do simple things like repaint some of the rooms in the house. Once again the LNP are looking after the more affluent end of town.

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      There is some ambiguity in the announcements Daniel so I live in hope,- and indeed several small jobs will amount to about the same as a normal, (currently funded? or not week so would still do what is intended, – many a mickle makes a muckle, so the Govt should not in all fairness limit the size of the job.
      You sound like you are on the opposite side, – you can do the work but Don’t have the materials, – you would be a perfect match for someone in my circumstance, but I guess you have to be registered in some bureaucratic scheme, – no I don’t think they are looking after you, nor probably after me..
      You get that.

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      Lookfar you don’t even come close to qualifying. This scheme is for the benefit of the multimillionaires who donate to the LNP.
      And I doubt even many of those will be interested.

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      You’ll probably need to spend $10,000 on a consultant to do the paperwork just to get in the door!

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      No Dave R. It’s not for multimillionaires who donate to the LNP. It’s to fund MAJOR renovation projects or new homes for people who earn below a defined income threshold and whose home will be worth less than $1.5 mil after the work is done.

      I agree the scheme is seriously flawed and I don’t agree with requiring people to spend $150,000 to qualify – although I can see the logic in wanting substantial jobs to be made available so builders aren’t racing about doing fiddly little jobs all over the place for peanuts, because that won’t boost the industry. But let’s not exaggerate the flaws. There are logical reasons for the way the scheme is structured. It’s just a shame that the government couldn’t have shown a little more interest in those with very limited resources who genuinely need renovation work done. Perhaps we could write to the government and suggest they allow people in various areas to group together to have less substantial renovations done so that a builder gets his $150,000 job but it consists of multiple small jobs for various people who pool their funds through a community organisation.

      Perhaps we could suggest that Rotary or Lions Clubs co-ordinate projects to employ a builder at $150,000 to do a whole series of smaller reno jobs for battlers?

      Complaints and criticism won’t help. But a constructive suggestion might just get a positive response.

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      No Dave R. It’s not for multimillionaires who donate to the LNP. It’s to fund MAJOR renovation projects or new homes for people who earn below a defined income threshold and whose home will be worth less than $1.5 mil after the work is done.

      I agree the scheme is seriously flawed and I don’t agree with requiring people to spend $150,000 to qualify – although I can see the logic in wanting substantial jobs to be made available so builders aren’t racing about doing fiddly little jobs all over the place for peanuts, because that won’t boost the industry. But let’s not exaggerate the flaws. There are logical reasons for the way the scheme is structured. It’s just a shame that the government couldn’t have shown a little more interest in those with very limited resources who genuinely need renovation work done. Perhaps we could write to the government and suggest they allow people in various areas to group together to have less substantial renovations done so that a builder gets his $150,000 job but it consists of multiple small jobs for various people who pool their funds through a community organisation.

      Perhaps we could suggest that Rotary or Lions Clubs co-ordinate projects to employ a builder at $150,000 to do a whole series of smaller reno jobs for battlers?

      Complaints and criticism won’t help. But a constructive suggestion might just get a positive response.

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    I am 74 and disabled. Our house badly needs repairs and repainting and also new carpets. I am unable to do this myself and don’t qualify for the $150000 renovation. So what good is it. It doesnt help the people that need it

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      There seems to be some confusion over the this grant of largesse from the GOVT.

      Mike you have to stump up $150,000 first out of your pocket then they will add $25,000 extra as the grant…

      I am sure you do not qualify…in your circumstances.

      You and I quite a few others are the unlucky ones not to have unlimited resources $$$$$ in retirement……for home reno’s

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      Hi Mike, I guess I am similiar to you except I saved and purchased for years tiny bit by tiny bit to get all this hardware together, only to not be able to install it. – I am sorry you can’t take advantage of this scheme, – and I have never been even notionally eligible to any scheme, but I assume you will feel happy that all my scrimping and saving has got me to (very very maybe) able to apply to this scheme?

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      You need more then hardware Lookfar, you also need the $150,000 to qualify and goodness only knows what else is in the fine print.

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      Just reporting on Chanel 7 news that thousands of Sydney dwellers qualify for this $25,000 reno grant, once again nothing for country people where a lot of homes are not worth much more then the $150,000 amount you need to spend. Why don’t they build more public housing, that would keep the building industry going.

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      Its a bit like having a school hall built in your backyard so the govt gives you $25000.Dejavous.

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      Its a bit like having a school hall built in your backyard so the govt gives you $25000.Dejavous.

  7. 0
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    I just don’t get it. I have a friend who is a builder and he agrees that he has never been busier over the past few months. He has just put on a 2nd apprentice. This grant is just stupid, will only help the wealthy. I am solely on aged pension, my 1960’s kitchen is falling apart, but I can’t afford the cheapest quote of $18,000 let alone the minimum of $150,000 required for this grant.

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      Misty,
      Normally if one has “in kind” ie the materials, that is a version of the $150,000. or part thereof.
      Perhaps in this case also..

      Not holding my breathe though.

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      Tradies are busoier than ever duting lockdown due to all the ‘home renovators’ thinkoing they can do things they are not qualified to do. The Tradies are sorting out them messes left by the home owners!

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      Older&wiser, I’m sorry you can’t afford to replace a kitchen that is falling apart. Try looking for used kitchens. I often see a very nice kitchen advertised for a few hundred dollars – sold by a wealthy person wanting an upgrade. Now that they can get a grant to help fund their renovations, you might see a few good used kitchens for sale. Our local ‘Salvage Shed’ always has several to choose from at prices under $2000, and some are very nice indeed.

  8. 0
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    People already planning to build or undertake a significant renovation will think this is great. However, in this time of recession many will balk at spending $150,000. I doubt the Government will get a big take up! Again, all smoke and mirrors from this Government

  9. 0
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    I live fortnight to fortnight on the pension and live in a 1940 circa cottage. I want to remain at home I am 76 and want to age in place. With steps at the front door and a gravel drive it will be hard,I also have steps to the kitchen.There is no way I can modify and add safety measures.Only the hot water is on solar so electricity is a cost as well.

  10. 0
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    This government thinks every problem is solved by throwing money at it…and then prices of tradies, houses, etc goes up as well as everyone scrambles for their piece of government cash.
    I wonder how many pollies with their multi houses are eligible for this largesse. Never vote millionao and multimillionaires into government.

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      Triss, every problem in a depressed economy IS solved by throwing money at it, that is what the Govt. is learning, but they have to throw more and in the right places.

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      Sorry. Lookfar, can’t agree. Granted a depressed economy needs cash but our various governments seem to think it stops there so much of the money goes to administrators, etc and not to the people who it should go to and who need it.

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