09 Oct 2020

Unemployed face rental time bomb ahead of JobSeeker and JobKeeper cuts, Anglicare says

A rental crisis is looming for Australians out of work during the pandemic, according to a new study that says only 1 per cent of properties listed are affordable for singles receiving JobSeeker payments.

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said unemployed renters faced a "ticking time bomb" if the Federal Government followed through with plans to reduce JobSeeker rates from September 25.

Ms Chambers said Anglicare's analysis of almost 77,000 rental listings on the first weekend of August found only 808 were considered affordable for singles on JobSeeker.

The situation was slightly better for a household of two parents receiving JobSeeker and two children aged under 10.

In that scenario, about 5 per cent of rental listings were affordable, Anglicare said.

The study found the percentage of affordable houses had dropped for 14 categories of household types since March, including those on aged and disability support pensions.

"For people on the lowest incomes, rentals are even less affordable than they were back in March," Ms Chambers said.

Anglicare defines a property as affordable if its rental cost is less than 30 per cent of a household's gross income.

Currently, singles without children receive $1,115 a fortnight on JobSeeker, but that is set to be slashed to $815 a fortnight later this month.

JobSeeker payments are marginally higher for singles with dependants, and slightly lower for couples who are both on JobSeeker.

All payments are scheduled to drop by a further $250 from January 1 when a coronavirus supplement is halted by the Commonwealth.

Meanwhile, JobKeeper payments to businesses are also set to scaled down in September and in the new year.

'JobSeeker keeping people afloat'

Ms Chambers called for support payments to be raised permanently and said there was a shortfall of 500,000 social and affordable rental properties across the country.

"With 1.6 million people locked out of work, the new rate of JobSeeker is the only thing keeping them afloat," she said.

Rental prices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane dropped in August, while prices rebounded in the other capital cities, according to SQM Research.

Landlords in Sydney are feeling the tightest pinch, with house rental prices down 7.8 per cent and unit prices down 6.8 per cent in the past 12 months.

However, Ms Chambers said the rent relief was not being felt by those who needed it most at the bottom end of the market.

Australia's unemployment rate was sitting at 7.4 per cent in June, according to the Bureau of Statistics, however Victorian officials have painted a dire picture of the months ahead as the state grapples with the impacts of strict lockdowns.

Last month, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the state's unemployment rate could reach 11 per cent in the September quarter, the result of 325,000 job losses.

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-01/unemployed-rental-time-bomb-jobseeker-jobkeeper-anglicare-says/12612864

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