Affordable housing, sustainability loans and utilities concessions are among the key measures set to impact households in the year ahead, the ACT's 2021-22 budget has revealed.
A one-off $50 rebate will be offered to utilities concession recipients in 2021-22, in addition to the one-off $200 increase announced in September.
The government will also make a permanent $50 increase to the utilities concession taking it to $750 per household in the years ahead. It means 31,000 Canberra households will benefit from an increased concession payment totaling $1,000 in 2021-22.
Pensioners will also see a permanent $50 increase to the general rates rebate cap to $750 from this financial year.
Homeowners in Turner are facing the biggest rate hikes for houses, with a 9.4 per cent increase taking the average rates for 2021-22 to $3095 per household. Rates for houses in Red Hill are up 9.1 per cent to $7306, followed by Yarralumla up 7.8 per cent to $7054 and O'Malley where rates have risen 7.4 per cent to $5732.
For units, the biggest increase was seen in Forrest where rates are up 11 per cent to $3095 per household. Rates for units in Deakin are up 10.9 per cent to $2545, followed by Ainslie up 10.8 per cent to an average of $3363 and Curtin with 10.2 per cent rise to $2241.
Stamp duty concessions for owner-occupiers who purchase off-the-plan units valued at $500,000 or below will be extended on a permanent basis.
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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said addressing housing affordability across the territory is an important focus.
"The issue here is that there's a majority of homeowners in the community, so more people own property than don't, I'm yet to meet a voter who says they want the value of their property to go down," he said.
"So in the absence of policies that reduce the value of homes for existing property owners, the way to address housing affordability is to increase the supply of more affordable homes that are new product coming into the market and so that's what a land release program is about, that's what urban renewal and infill is about.
"What I would anticipate though is that our stamp duty reduction program will continue to focus very strongly on the bottom half of the housing market so as to provide more assistance to those looking to get into the market for the first time."
Affordable and public housing get major boost
The ACT government's 2021-22 budget is touted as one of its biggest in terms of affordable and public housing spend, with $80 million to be spent over the next four years on repairs and maintenance plus close to $20 million over four years on new dwellings.
As announced in late September, commitments include $720,000 over four years to launch expressions of interest for build-to-rent schemes to identify what government support would be required to deliver the projects.
Also in the budget, $4.2 million has been allocated for site works to facilitate land release at Block 2, Section 76 in Watson. The site has been earmarked for up to 200 new dwellings, including affordable housing options.
Sustainability incentives for households are another key feature in this year's budget.
As announced last week, the government has committed $150 million to the sustainable household scheme, offering eligible households interest-free loans of up to $15,000 to pay for energy efficiency upgrades, including solar panels, battery storage, zero emission vehicles and energy efficient electric appliances.
Macgregor residents Chelsea Menchin and Andrew Carbine recently sold their four-bedroom home and said its energy efficiency rating (EER) was a big drawcard for buyers.
In recent years, the couple invested in series of home upgrades including new insulation, 20 rooftop solar panels and three water tanks.
"Having the 5.5 EER on a big block in an old house ... I think that was a big selling point because people can see we've invested in things that you can't see but that actually make a big difference in your life," Ms Menchin said.
Other sustainability measures in this year's budget include an interest-free loan system for low-income homeowners in the government's five-year, $50 million vulnerable household energy support scheme.
The solar for low income program is also set to continue, providing subsidies of up to $2,500 for low-income homeowners to support the installation of rooftop solar systems.
Pent-up demand puts pressure on property market
The budget forecasts strong pent-up demand for property post-lockdown will result in a rebound in auction clearance rates across the territory.
This is likely to put upward pressure on property prices throughout the ACT, however the government expects growth rates to moderate.
Following the sale of their home, Ms Menchin and Mr Carbine are relocating to Yass, a move that's been on the cards for sometime but wouldn't have been possible if the property market wasn't so strong.
"The 22-day average [selling time] that the Canberra market has at the moment, as well as the good [sale] prices enabled us to do it," Ms Menchin said.
"If there was a risk that [our property] would have sat on the market for a few months then we physically couldn't do it."
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