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Rising Electricity Prices Are Putting Pressure on Housing Costs across Australia

The high cost of living has featured prominently in the news lately as Governments seek to blame each other for the price rises.

The State Governments blame the Federal Government's carbon tax while the Federal Government claims State Governments are using infrastructure such as telegraph poles and wires as a cash cow. But whatever the cause, higher housing costs are the result.

Higher Electricity Costs affect People on Low Income

It is obvious that these higher costs mostly affect those on lower income levels and individuals with part time jobs, as well as the unemployed. As we have seen electricity costs have put a large amount of pressure on the cost of living and are forcing many individuals and families into debt. In fact, the Australian Institute of Public Affairs has revealed that in the five years from 2005-10 electricity prices have increased at nearly four times the rate of inflation. In Sydney the increase was 61.3%, and in Perth prices increased by 35.8%. Since 2010 housing costs in these cities have continued to rise.

Employed and Unemployed Struggling with Debt

Skyrocketing housing costs have also seen an ever increasing number of unemployed and employed people struggle with debt. As a result the possible inadequacy of welfare payments for the unemployed seems to be featuring in public debate, even among politicians. Many would argue that this is long overdue and that housing costs mean that welfare payments are insufficient for many tenants. Proof of this is that, according to Australian Census figures, there was an 8% increase in homelessness between 2006 and 2011. It is also interesting to see that The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has called on the Federal Government to expand the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

Tenants in Debt and unable to afford the Rent

Clearly, higher housing costs have a long term effect when tenants find themselves in debt and unable to afford their rent, or without rental accommodation over a long period. The reason being that in a competitive market realtors are able to be very picky about whom they choose to be tenants. As such, in order to be approved, an individual or individuals must be able to demonstrate a positive rental history (and if it is recent that is even better). People without a positive rental history obviously face a serious hurdle to securing suitable long term accommodation.

Governments must address increased Housing Costs

State and Federal Governments need to 'stop playing the blame game' and must address the problem of increasing housing costs by introducing measures to help those on lower incomes. Politicians of all persuasions need to put aside their differences and ensure that homelessness does not continue to rise. This is something that should be seen as unacceptable in a first world nation such as Australia.


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