MP slams public housing 'bed tax'

Member for Kiama Gareth Ward presents Isabella Sandy with her award.

Member for Kiama Gareth Ward presents Isabella Sandy with her award.

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson.

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson.

SHELLHARBOUR MP Anna Watson has called for the state government to scrap plans that would see public housing tenants charged extra if they have two or more unused bedrooms.

Ms Watson labelled the plan a "bed tax" and accused the government of holding back figures on the number of housing tenants who have indicated they would be willing to move to a smaller dwelling.

"Some time ago I asked a question on notice to the minister (regarding) how many people had requested to be transferred to a house with fewer bedrooms to avoid the tax, and the minister is holding back on those figures," Ms Watson said.

"The answer I finally got is that requests have been approved and will occur when the housing stock becomes available, so to me it sounds like the government wants to charge people, yet doesn't have the housing stock for them to downsize anyway."

Ms Watson was also disappointed a parliamentary inquiry into public housing did not visit the Shellharbour electorate, despite hosting public hearings in Bomaderry and Wollongong last week.

Ms Watson believed the former Housing Minister Pru Goward had been targeting public housing residents in the area.

"I am extremely disappointed the inquiry did not visit my electorate, especially after public housing residents here were targeted to have this bed tax inflicted on them.

"I want this tax wiped out completely. All it is doing is generating fear and anxiety among tenants; the fact is people want to downsize but the housing stock isn't there."

Kiama MP Gareth Ward said the government had to do something to make better use of public housing facilities.

"There's something like 36,000 spare rooms across NSW and there's 55,000 people on the public housing waiting list. There are people who are in properties that are much larger than what suits them and we need to make better use of those properties."

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