The two peak bodies have joined forces to extend the grant to retirees after the Government failed to extend its much-touted HomeBuilder scheme to the retirement living sector.
As we reported here, the scheme – which offered $25,000 cash grants for owner-occupiers to build or renovate an existing home – but required the State Government to take up the offer under national partnership agreements – which they didn’t.
RLC Executive Director Ben Myers says there is a strong argument for establishing a separate downsizing scheme, saying their research shows that moving into a retirement community saves the Government $12,600 a year in health and aged care costs.
In addition to the healthcare benefits, the scheme would immediately create construction work as people moved out of their homes which would likely need refurbishment.
“For many, that will also free up some equity that they might spend or invest so it really is a multiplier effect,” he said.
Lifestyle Communities CEO and Chair of the Alliance James Kelly agrees, saying the grant would flow 100% through to retirees.
“It’s a win-win for Government,” he said.
James is meeting with the Victorian State Government this week to push the measure.
However, Ben acknowledges the sector has been quiet in advocating to the Federal Government in the leadup to the Budget because of COVID.
“It’s been a difficult year to spend a lot of time with people in Canberra,” he said. “They have been very mum about what might or might not do.”
The RLC is also looking closely for any changes from the Government to the Pension Loans Scheme (PLS) to make it available to people living in retirement communities.
“At the moment, that requires a mortgage on a property so we have made a case that the Government could work with the industry to provide the security they need for residents.”
More broadly, Ben says they will be looking at the Government’s projections for the housing market and any changes to pension entitlements. Means testing arrangements etc. as well as any spending on aged care and home care ahead of the Royal Commission’s Final Report.
“More broadly like everyone else, we will be looking at what their forecasts are for the economy and whether they believe the stimulus that they’re able to provide will help bring things back to normal,” he said.
“Everyone’s hoping that’s the message and it’s not a message of gloom.”
Watch this space then.