Since 2007-08, average residential bills in NSW have increased by 45% and the July 2017 rise was another shock for low-income households. Even the cheapest offers available on the market – between $1,875 and $2,174 a year depending on the area – are unaffordable for many of the people who come to us because they want to keep the lights on but cannot pay their bills anymore. High electricity bills affect the poorest the hardest. On average, low-income households spend 4.8 per cent of their income on electricity, compared to 0.8 percent for high earners.
It is time to change the rules so that everyone in the community has access to affordable, reliable and clean energy. Electricity, like shelter, water, gas and telecoms is an essential service.
Our submission makes eight key recommendations, including the creation of a Basic Service Offer for people who expect a simple, ‘no-frills’ service at a reasonable price, and a 17.5% concession, which would be fairer than the fixed-amount Low Income Household Rebate.
Open Letter to Hon Mike Baird MP, Premier of NSW
NSW Homelessness Discussion Paper
“In October 2016, the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW submitted a response to the state government's Foundations for change- Homelessness in NSW discussion paper. Our submission makes twenty targeted recommendations to prevent and reduce homelessness in NSW.
As a matter of priority, we recommend more investments into social housing, amendments to the planning system to deliver more private rental options and changes to the Residential Tenancies Act to promote more stable tenancies. Evidence shows that the effectiveness of specialist homelessness services is largely dependent on the availability of housing that is affordable for people on lower-incomes – housing that is also stable, well-located (close to jobs, public transport, educational, health and other services), appropriate (for family size, disability, ageing, cultural and other needs), safe and enabling.”
A full copy of the response can be downloaded here
You can also take action by promoting our Right to Home campaign and signing our petition for more affordable housing.”
Homes for Older Women
In February 2016, St Vincent de Paul Society endorsed A Plan for Change: Homes for Older Women, which was developed by a group of non-government agencies concerned about the increase in older women’s homelessness.
Older women should not be homeless in Australia in 2016. It is not acceptable that there is currently no NSW Government priority for addressing the housing needs of older women, despite increasing evidence that the numbers who are homeless, or living in housing stress, is growing.
A Plan for Change: Homes for Older Women proposes a series of initiatives to help older women to be able to live in homes that are safe, secure and affordable:
- A NSW Government commitment to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the homelessness of older women
- Funding for the development of two new affordable housing projects for older women
- Making the private rental sector a viable long term option for older women
- Improving the way that the housing and homelessness service system responds to and supports homeless older women
- Developing a targeted mixed equity model for older women
- Securing the financial independence of older women
Social Housing in NSW discussion paper
In 2015, the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW commented on the NSW Government’s ‘Social Housing in NSW’ discussion paper. The submission lays out a ‘10 Steps Over 20 Years’ strategy, which includes:
- Transferring title to half the social housing portfolio (comprising the good-quality stock) to the community housing sector;
- Channelling all proceeds from the progressive sale of poor-quality dwellings into replacement stock, primarily higher-density developments mixing social, affordable and private-market housing (with some flexibility for heritage dwellings); and
- Allocating $3 billion to growth in social and affordable housing supply (provided the leasing of the NSW ‘poles and wires’ goes ahead).
Read our full submission here.
NSW Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing
In 2014, St Vincent de Paul NSW made a contribution to the NSW inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing and recommended a series of measures to deliver more social and affordable housing in NSW:
- The development of a formal plan to increase the supply of social and affordable housing, with numerical targets and in partnership with the Federal Government;
- Capital funding for a Community Housing Social Investment Fund;
- The inclusion of social housing as a form of infrastructure investment;
- The large-scale transfer of the management of tenanted properties by the Land and Housing Corporation to community housing providers, utilising long-term leases;
- The establishment of a new community housing sector advisory committee to advise the Minister for Family and Community Services, and the Community and Private Market Housing Directorate; and
- The inclusion of Local Government Area targets for the provision of new affordable rental dwellings in all future metropolitan and regional land-use plans.
Our submission also features a number of case studies that illustrate the many challenges facing individuals and families on low incomes who have not accessed social and affordable housing, or whose incomes are slightly higher than the eligibility requirements for social and affordable housing. For these households, does the private rental market deliver? The answer is: clearly not.