The Western Australian Government has announced a housing stimulus package worth almost two-thirds of the national HomeBuilder program, with a strong focus on social housing and grants for homebuyers.
The state government expects its $444 million package announced yesterday to support around 4,300 jobs in the building and construction sectors, comprising the following benefits:
- $117 million for $20,000 Building Bonus grants provided to homebuyers who sign up before December 31, 2020 to build new houses or purchase a new property in a single tier development (such as a townhouse) prior to construction finishing, creating 2,600 jobs;
- $8.2 million to expand the 75 per cent off-the-plan transfer duty rebate, capped at $25,000, until December 31, 2020 to include purchases in multi-tiered developments already under construction;
- $97 million to construct social housing dwellings and purchase off-the-plan units for supported housing programs;
- $142 million to refurbish 1,500 existing social housing dwellings; and
- $80 million for targeted maintenance programs for 3,800 regional social housing properties - including remote Aboriginal communities' stock and subsidised housing for regional government workers.
The plan is scheduled for immediate rollout, and will run into 2020-21, providing tradespeople and building material suppliers with additional certainty about an ongoing pipeline of work.
Premier Mark McGowan says the new major housing package will provide a much-needed boost to WA's economy.
"It will provide a pipeline of work for WA building companies and local tradies, like bricklayers, plumbers, carpenters and painters, as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
"The social housing component will also go a long way to helping those in need, get into a quality home.
"WA's residential building industry makes a significant contribution to our economy and community, so it's important we help protect, support and create new jobs in this space."
State Treasurer Ben Wyatt says the package takes the government's total COVID-19 stimulus and relief commitments to date up to $2.3 billion.
"The package will recharge our housing industry by bringing forward a pipeline of work, providing a boost to our economy and supporting jobs," he says.
"An estimated 66,000 workers are directly employed in the residential construction sector and many thousands more rely on the industry for their livelihoods," adds Housing Minister Peter Tinley.
"The various elements of the social housing package are designed to provide opportunities for work - especially in regional areas - and help propel WA's economic recovery."
"It will also result in more liveable, modern homes for tenants and improve the overall lifespan of our social housing stock - a publicly-owned asset with an estimated worth of about $14 billion."
In a column for The Conversation last week in anticipation of the Federal Government's $680 million HomeBuilder program, Brendan Coates of the Grattan Institute argued social housing stimulus would help address several problems at once; it not only provides a safety net and helps tackle homelessness, but it also pumps money into the construction sector quickly without the injection simply being passed on through higher property prices.
Updated at 9:20am AEST on 8 June 2020.
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