BUNDABERG 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 1038 households in Bundaberg afforded social housing, only four of those households pay the full 25% of their income towards rent as required.
Sixty three of those households pay less than 10% of their weekly income towards rent.
Bundaberg social housing tenants pay on average $126 a week in rent compared to $285 on average in the private market - a 56% discount.
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.
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.
Bundy households by percent of income paid in rent:
Total number of social housing households: 1038
- Less than 10%
- Between 10% and 15%
- Between 15% and 20%
- Between 20% and 25%
- Full 25%
PUBLIC VS PRIVATE
Average private rent in Bundy compared to social housing rent:
- Private rent
- Social housing