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Cost of living, housing and regional initiatives highlight SACOSS 24-25 budget submission

Helping low-income South Australian households through cost of living, housing and regional initiatives is the focus of SACOSS' 2024-25 budget submission to the state government released today.

The submission contains 11 main proposals, including calling for the state government to: 

  • Increase concessions and broaden the eligibility criteria to remove poverty premiums and ensure that everyone who needs them can access support 
  • Build more social housing and adjust property taxes to increase housing supply 
  • Support households in obtaining greater energy efficiency by helping fund an improved Retailer Energy Productivity Scheme; and assist households to make use of the smart meter roll out 
  • Fund human services planning for the Upper Spencer Gulf. This should sit alongside the current infrastructure and workforce planning to ensure that no-one is harmed or left behind in the region's new industrial developments. 
  • Allocate $10m per year to a Regional Digital Inclusion Fund. Addressing needs identified in our Keys to the Digital World report, this fund would support libraries, community centres and others to help people without computers or devices, and people with limited digital skills and ability, to get online to access vital information and government services.
  • Extend and/or develop water pricing subsidies for remote areas. This would provide greater equity in the provision of an essential service so that remote residents outside the WA Water network pay the equivalent of SA Water supply charges.

Quotes attributable to SACOSS Acting CEO Dr Rebecca Tooher 

It is no surprise that housing and cost of living issues are central to our budget submission, because these are the issue causing great pain in our community – particularly for those on low incomes.

We know the government has done considerable work in looking at the current concessions system and scoping reform options. We need to see reforms, appropriately funded, that result in a concessions system that is fairer for the people most in need of concessions assistance.

Similarly, we welcome the turnaround in government provision of social housing, but after 30 years of decline in the public housing estate, we need to keep investing to ease supply pressures in the market while keeping pace with population growth and maintenance requirements. In the private market, a vacancy tax could increase effective housing supply, while an opt-in annual land tax in place of stamp duty payable on purchase could help people buy and sell houses more easily. 

With the energy bill relief payments currently supporting households due to end next year, our submission also points to the need for government investment in energy efficiency to assist low-income households.

Our budget submission also reflects our research across SA's regions, along with what we hear from our members in those areas.

It is clear that massive developments planned for the Upper Spencer Gulf - while positive for jobs and economic development - need to be accompanied by an appropriate level of human services planning and engagement with impacted communities.

Our Upper Spencer Gulf human services planning proposal is modest in terms of expenditure, but would have a significant impact on a region which has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the planned economic growth work for everyone.

We also know that our issues like digital inclusion and the cost of water in remote areas are major concerns.

Digital inclusion support is vital in regional South Australia as more and more services leave regional towns and go online, and water pricing is just about basic fairness for remote communities. 

It is imperative that the Government directs funding to address these issues because South Australians urgently need action to be taken to improve their lives and offer relief.


Published Date: 
Wednesday, 28 February 2024