• Murray McCully

The Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Housing, and Hon Roger Sowry, Minister of Social Welfare, today announced a $58M housing assistance package to increase Accommodation Supplement and Special Benefit payments to eligible low income renters and mortgage holders.

The package will mean that for the 1997/98 year, the Government will have budgeted a total of about $760M on Accommodation Supplement payments spread across more than 300,000 households. The Government will also spend $64M during the same period on Special Benefit payments spread across 25,000 households.

The package involves:

changing the Accommodation Supplement formula so the Government will now pay a 70-cents-in-the-dollar subsidy instead of 65 cents (above the eligibility baseline) to low income households.

increasing the maximum Accommodation Supplement payment that can be made in areas where rents have increased.

making the Special Benefit more accessible to those in need, by easing the eligibility criteria.
At the same time, the proportion of board regarded as accommodation costs for Accommodation Supplement payments will be changed. This will ensure boarders are treated equitably in relation to other recipients such as renters and mortgage holders.

Full details of the changes are in the table attached. All changes will take effect from 1 July 1997.

The Ministers say the announcement is "a major step towards implementation of the measures contained in the Coalition Agreement which would very substantially assist those households most under pressure."