Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 3 Hansard (26 February) . . Page.. 755..
endorsed the public housing management strategy in December 2011. The strategy sets out the overarching strategies, principles and objectives that guide the management of the public housing portfolio. The strategy was released in January 2012. Taking the committee's point that there needed to be clearer understanding of the decision-making behind the strategy, Housing ACT will investigate options to utilise existing government processes, such as the annual infrastructure plan, to report annual work priorities and progress against the strategy.
Recommendations 3 and 13, which suggested that supporting evidence for Housing applications be supplied at the time of a property being identified rather than at the time of application, were disagreed to. These recommendations were disagreed because it was felt that they would lead to increased waiting times for public housing tenants. Also disagreed to was recommendation 5, that all applications determined as eligible for priority housing be provided to the multidisciplinary panel and that a comparative needs test be applied only after the multidisciplinary panel assessed the applications as eligible. This was disagreed to as this recommendation has misinterpreted the function of the panel, in that the panel determines the eligibility for priority housing and, as such, Housing ACT progresses all applications which are assessed as potentially meeting the priority housing category to the panel.
A key theme of the committee's report is to improve Housing ACT's communication with tenants. In order to do so, achieving efficiencies are necessary to increase the capacity of front-line staff so that they have increased capacity for client management and contacts. Housing ACT is considering policy changes which will increase front-line service capacity, including the streamlining of rebates, which is also recommended in the report, and a housing payment deduction scheme which will introduce automatic rental deductions from Centrelink benefits for those tenants in arrears or at risk of falling into arrears. There are 10 per cent of tenants who are in significant debt. These tenants require disproportionate effort by housing managers in managing their debt, and the scheme, if introduced, will increase housing manager capacity by an anticipated 40 per cent. The additional time would be better used to support and communicate with tenants. As no additional resources are available for implementation of the government's agreed responses, the implementation time frames have been developed accordingly, with actions to be delivered over the next 12 months.
I look forward to working with Housing ACT, the Community Services Directorate and all stakeholders to advance the recommendations of the report and continue to improve the services offered to clients of Housing ACT.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr Corbell presented the following papers:
Subordinate legislation (including explanatory statements unless otherwise stated)