CABOOLTURE residents living in social housing are unknowingly exploiting a loophole in the system which allows them to pay a fraction of the rent required because the Federal Government benefits they receive are not deemed to be assessable income.
Queensland legislation requires those living in taxpayer-funded social housing across the state to pay 25% of their assessable income towards rent.
However, the former State Government relaxed social housing criteria resulting in more than 100 federal benefit payments being exempt from being considered as income costing the government more than $100 million annually.
Of the 2928 households in Caboolture afforded social housing only four of those households pay the full 25% of their income towards rent as required.
One hundred and ninety-nine of those households pay less than 10% of their weekly income towards rent.
Queensland Housing Minister Tim Mander, talking exclusively to APN Newsdesk, said he was shocked when he learnt the full extent of welfare benefits deemed not to be income.
Reasonable and generous
He said he believed the 25% contribution level towards their taxpayer-funded housing to be reasonable and generous.
"We will be looking at the 100 or so exemptions that have not been classified as contributing towards income," he said.
"If you receive these benefits they should form part of your income.
"I believe there has been a far too generous application of these exemptions."
Mr Mander said the government needed to look at ways to address the situation, but in a way that was not too burdensome on low income earners.
He said the current system had raised questions of equality both inside and outside the system.
"It is the poor pensioners that have been hard done by in all this," he said.
"All their benefits are classified as income whereas a family who receives similar benefits have been afforded a host of exemptions that do not form part of their income.
"We recognise that we simply cannot increase social housing rents.
"It is something we need to address, but it needs to be a fine balancing act as well," Mr Mander said.
DOING THE NUMBERS
Number of Caboolture households by percent of income paid in rent
Total number of social housing households: 2928
Less than 10%: 199
Between 10% and 15%: 1129
Between 15% and 20%: 1506
Between 20% and 25%: 90
Full 25%: 4
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