Index rent assistance: Catholic Social Services

Citing increasing numbers of low income people who are being forced to choose between paying for food, heating and rent, Catholic Social Services has called on the Government to index rent assistance for people in the private rental market.

ABC News reports that the Federal Government is being pressed by welfare groups to raise the level of rent assistance available after yesterday's rise in interest rates.

The official cash rate is now at 6.5 per cent, the highest it has been for 10 years.

Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) director Frank Quinlan says low income families in the private rental market will inevitably face a rise in rent.

He says many CSSA clients are already struggling.

"What we're seeing amongst our clients now is that people are sometimes having to make a choice week by week as to whether they manage to pay the rent or whether they manage to spend something on groceries or clothing or other essentials," he said.

Mr Quinlan says low-income families have another disadvantage.

"The other side of it is that people at the lowest end of the income spectrum don't have the sort of assets and savings behind them to see their way clear through these difficult times," he said.

"So the ups and downs that are caused by changes in interest rates really do affect them most harshly."

In a statement, Mr Quinlan also said that "the Australian Government can control the assistance it gives to low income individuals and families through funding for public housing and rent assistance".

"Low income families are unlikely to own their own home and many do not get access to public housing.

"Families are hurting and we see the results in our agencies," Mr Quinlan said.

"Many people are choosing between food, heating, and rent.

"This is unacceptable in such a buoyant economy. It has been said that we can judge our society by the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable citizens.

"In the absence of any real relief in the short term, urgent action is needed now to ensure children and families are not further disadvantaged," he concluded.

Rates rise prompts rent assistance call (ABC News, 9/8/07)
Index Rent Assistance In Line With Interest Rate Rises (Catholic Social Services, Media Release, 8/8/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Social Services Australia

Caritas welcomes budget aid increase (CathNews, 11/5/07)

9 Aug 2007