Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward today foreshadowed the expansion of the joint State and Commonwealth income management trial, which has already proven successful in Bankstown, into other areas of NSW.

Ms Goward has written to the Federal Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, outlining how the trial has helped tenants in arrears to conquer their debts, secure their tenancy, and
avoid homelessness.

“Since August last year FaCS has referred 49 public housing tenants from the Bankstown trial site to Centrelink social workers for income management assessment,” Ms Goward said

“In over sixty per cent of cases these tenants have either completely cleared or significantly reduced their rental arrears under a repayment plan.  This is a great result for our tenants, and one which suggests we should consider expanding the program.

“Sadly, rent arrears can very quickly lead to homelessness.  By working proactively with the
Commonwealth to expand the income management trial, we can help more public housing tenants get back in control of their lives and provide a stable, safe home for their family while meeting their obligations to the NSW taxpayer.”

Ms Goward drew attention to the level of debt in public housing in areas such as Mount Druitt, saying that in spite of efforts to help tenants manage their rental payments, still more than twenty per cent are in arrears – with an amassed debt of $387,295. 

Among the most significant cases of rental arrears in the area were:
  • $3,432  in rental arrears on a property in Tregear,
  • $3,397 in rental arrears on a property in Emerton; and
  • $3,321 in rental arrears on a property in Mt Druitt.
Ms Goward said as at the beginning of 2014 there was $4.3m in outstanding rents in public housing state-wide, and the large figure served to highlight the difficulty some tenants have in managing their budgets.

“Each year the Department spends an average of $3 million chasing rent arrears, with a further $1.5 million spent taking cases through the tenancy tribunal – actions which are primarily concerned with outstanding rent.  This is money which could be invested in new properties or maintenance,” Ms Goward said. 

“I look forward to pursuing this matter further with my Federal counterpart and offering more public housing tenants the opportunity to get their finances back on track.”

Pru Goward

Member for Goulburn

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Authorised by Pru Goward, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000