Vinnies calls for a fairer NSW ahead of state budget

Vinnies calls for a fairer NSW ahead of state budget

Media Release
NSW Budget

Ahead of the 2023-24 Budget being handed down next week, the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW is calling on the State Government to implement immediate targeted cost of living relief measures prioritising low income and disadvantaged people in NSW. 

In a tight fiscal environment, the Society is urging the Government to prioritise those people in our community who are most in need and impacted by the current crisis. The Society’s Pre Budget Submission, ‘A Fairer NSW’, sets out recommendations across seven key areas that could make a real difference to the lives of people doing it tough in the community.

  1. Affordable, healthy and accessible homes
  2. A fair go for renters
  3. Support for people experiencing homelessness
  4. Address the energy affordability crisis
  5. Transport affordability and access
  6. Education and digital inclusion
  7. Consistent and evidence-based indexation for service delivery funding

“We recognise that there are fiscal challenges, but we ask that the most vulnerable members of society are not forgotten when prioritising government spending, and that we take this opportunity to strengthen the vital social safety net which can help create a fairer, stronger NSW,” said Yolanda Saiz, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO.

More than 40,500 primary people were supported by Society members over the past year, along with an additional 45,500 dependents, with the amount of financial and material aid distributed by members rising by almost 60% to $13.4 million. Concerningly, one-in-three people sought assistance for the first time and close to half reported being in housing stress.

The Society is calling for the NSW Government to invest in a social housing fund to deliver an initial 5,000 new or upgraded social homes this year, along with additional tailored supports, with the view to bringing social housing up to 10% of all dwellings in NSW by 2040. Further calls include mandating affordable housing targets of at least 15% on private residential developments and a minimum of 30% on surplus public land.

“More than 125,000 people are currently waiting for social housing across the state and based on the current rate of investment it will take at least 80 years for everyone on that list to be housed. The situation for renters is similarly concerning with a third of all renters and around half of renters on low income in rental stress,” said Ms Saiz.

With NSW not requiring mandated energy efficiency and housing accessibility standards, many renters are faced with living conditions that are unsafe and unhealthy, resulting in poorer health outcomes along with financial implications from needing to spend more on energy bills to keep their home at a healthy temperature. As such, the introduction of minimum standards in rental properties is a necessary measure.

The Society welcomes the government’s introduction of a NSW Rental Commissioner and is hopeful the position will ensure a fair deal for renters, including introducing fair limits for rent increases through better regulation.

“Our members and staff are observing notable inequality at ground level in the communities where they live and work each day, said Paul Burton, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW State President.

“In many cases, people are in need of support with the basics – food, clothing, household bills and a place to call home. Parents are choosing to scale down or completely skip their own meals so their children can eat. They are also choosing not to switch on heating or cooling facilities due to the increasing unaffordability of energy.

“Budgets are about priorities we ask the new state government to take action for the most vulnerable through sound and innovative investment and policy,” said Mr Burton.

The latest census figures revealed more than 35,000 people experience homelessness in NSW, while rough sleeping increased by 34% across the state over the past year. With half of the people approaching specialist homelessness services in the past year unable to access housing support due to under resourcing according to the latest Productivity Commission Report on Government Services, the Society is calling for further government investment for SHS providers to meet the need that exists and will continue to grow without targeted intervention.

Helping people to improve their lives and increase their health and wellbeing has important economic benefits for the State. The recommendations proposed will have long-lasting effects on reducing poverty and inequality by uplifting those in the community struggling to make ends meet and live in an affordable, healthy and accessible home.

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW’s Pre Budget Submission ‘A Fairer NSW’ is available at www.vinnies.org.au/NSWPBS2023   

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