ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media Release: Battling renters smashed again in Canberra - Report

24 November 2021

ACTCOSS has called for urgent action following the 2021 Rental Affordability Index which shows Canberra is the least affordable city for low-income renters in Australia.

ACTCOSS A/g CEO, Craig Wallace said: “We already knew Canberra was unaffordable for people on low incomes, but this report, based on government held rental bond data, gives a stark and very specific insight into those groups of renters being financially smashed in the current market.

“It shows that there is currently no affordable rental housing for single pensioners, pensioner couples, people on Jobseeker, and single part-time working parents also on benefits.

“A single person on Jobseeker would need to spend more than their whole income - 113% of their actual income - to rent in Canberra while pensioner couples are being asked to pay more than half of their income and for single pensioners two-thirds of their income on rent.

“People are being forced to eke out a weekly budget that chooses between paying the rent and maintaining ever rising food, electricity, heating, clothing, and petrol bills. Even working people are just scraping by and the index shows the ACT is the second least affordable capital city for single full-time working parents and couples with children,” Mr Wallace said.

ACTCOSS’s 2021 Cost of Living Report found that Canberra has the highest rate of rental stress among lower income private rental households at 73% and a shortfall of around 3,100 social housing dwellings.

“We need full delivery of the ACT Housing Strategy on the ground here with additional public and community controlled build-to-rent housing. This requires direct investment from the ACT Government and changes to planning to free up more land for affordability and reduce costs and barriers for community housing providers.

“Our planning system can help increase community confidence in new affordable housing development by ensuring community facilities, infrastructure and transport links are baked in at the design stage.

“The Federal Government doesn’t get an exit pass. As we head towards a Federal election, stressed Canberra renters need the next Government to urgently commit to funding a national social housing construction program, boost Commonwealth Rent Assistance and continue to support and extend affordable housing rental incentive programs to generate new supply,” Mr Wallace concluded.

View the 2021 Rental Affordability Index by National Shelter, SGS Economics & Planning, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and Beyond Bank Australia.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.
For more information or comment, please contact
Craig Wallace, A/g CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0477 200 755.