Push to ditch negative gearing and use windfall for housing

THE community sector has urged the Abbott government to abandon the multi-million dollar negative gearing tax break and use the money to fund affordable housing options.

As the sector prepares for a federal budget which may or may not cut funding for homelessness services, it has urged the government to do more for housing.

Led by the Australian Council of Social Services, the sector called on the government to consider reforming or removing the negative gearing practices and create a new national affordable housing strategy.

ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said it was vital that the government finally tackled key issues to improve affordable housing for the most vulnerable.

Her comments followed the Reserve Bank's on Wednesday warning that despite a strong economy, there were risks that banks would loosen lending standards and that low interest rates could not last forever.

National Shelter chief executive Adrian Pisarski said if current policies persisted, the nation risked running "down the sort of speculative roads RBA Governor Glenn Stevens was talking about".

He said policies such as negative gearing were not addressed; Australia would create a "massive intergenerational problem that future generations will not thank us for".

To that end, Dr Goldie said despite the tight budget likely to be handed down in May, the need for continued support for low-cost housing and homelessness services could be addressed by savings made by ending the tax break.

While at pains not to put a figure to it, she said she was hopeful the government would guarantee funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness for the next five years.

That agreement is due to run out in July this year, with no guarantees so far that funding will be continued.