Budget leaves helpless renters to 'rot in housing hell'

An extra $19 per fortnight on average for struggling renters will be a mere drop in the bucket compared to the ever-rising tide of housing costs, advocates say.

Almost a million Commonwealth Rent Assistance recipients received a 10 per cent boost to payments in the federal budget, after a 15 per cent rise the previous year, the first back-to-back rise in more than 30 years.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Tuesday also unveiled measures targeted at increasing housing supply, including incentives to lure more workers to construction, $1 billion for enabling infrastructure and tax breaks for build-to-rent developments.

"We need to address housing supply and the budget last night adds to that support," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Triple M Adelaide on Wednesday.

But with Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing rental prices rose 7.8 per cent in the year to March - the strongest annual increase since 2009 - critics lamented the investment did not meet the scale of the challenge.

Housing supply
The budgets included measures aimed at increasing housing supply.

Property Council of Australia chief executive Mike Zorbas called it a silver-medal budget.

"There is a solid investment in housing and better planning of our cities," Mr Zorbas said.

"However, the scale of the housing challenge and the need to better unlock land for all property asset classes including industrial requires a doubling of this investment going forward.

"We will continue to champion better investment settings and greater investment in our cities."

His sentiments were echoed by Justin Simon, chair of housing advocacy group Sydney YIMBY.

"Much more investment in infrastructure and incentive payments to the states will be needed if we’re going to hit the National Housing Accord target (of 1.2 million new homes over the next five years)," he said.

Others called for direct government intervention to prop up housing construction.

"Really, it is business as usual and we have seen that business as usual is not enough of an injection into the social housing sector to see the increase in supply we really need," University of Sydney urban policy analyst Nicole Gurran told ABC News.

Because 98 per cent of new homes were delivered by the private sector, housing construction languished in times of high interest rates and material costs, she said.

"To correct that, we need to build up the sector of the housing system that can build counter-cyclically, and that is social and affordable housing and build-to-rent."

Greens housing spokesman Max Chandler-Mather said the increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance was a "slap in the face" to millions of renters doing it tough, urging a mass build of public housing and removing tax breaks for property investors.

"Labor has left millions of renters and mortgage holders to rot in housing hell," he said.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the budget amounted to pre-election cash handouts and forgot people suffering housing stress.

"We've got people living in cars and in tents at the moment," he told Channel Nine.

"The government's created a housing emergency in our country. They weren't even mentioned last night."

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