The HomeBuilder program continues to
achieve great uptake, having reached 82,000 applications and expected to top 100,000 by the end of March. This has created a pipeline of work valued at $18 billion, with economic benefits spreading well beyond the construction sector. While this payment system was designed to help people with new builds and renovations, its primary purpose was to provide new business for tradespeople who were struggling with a lack of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, the federal government is
expecting to shell out more than $2 billion in HomeBuilder grants by the end of
the month. This is much bigger than expectations, with just 27,000 Australian
households anticipated to access a grant when the scheme was launched in June,
2020. Instead of the forecast $680 million, the uncapped program will cost the
government more than triple this amount.
The HomeBuilder grant was established in
2020 to boost jobs in the construction and renovation sectors. As a direct
response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scheme offers one-off grants of up to
$25,000 to home owners. Owner occupiers can either use this money to help them
build a new home or use it to substantially renovate their existing home. While
the scheme had many critics when it was announced, relatively minimal COVID-19
exposure and a strong economic comeback in Australia have made it an enticing
proposition for many households.
Between June 4 and December 31, 2020, the
grant was available at $25,000. This amount was reduced at the start of 2021,
and is now valued at $15,000. In order to meet the requirements of the
application, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. The contract must be
signed between January 1 and March 31, 2021, and the construction must commence
within six months of the contract being signed. Tim Reardon from the Housing
Industry Association is expecting a surge of applications as we come to the end
of the March deadline.
According to Prime Minister Scott Morrison,
and despite the tremendous and unexpected cost of the program, the scheme has
been a huge success: "HomeBuilder had sceptics, or critics who said nobody
would take it on... Not only did they take it on but they have taken it on far
beyond our expectations. Just shy of 82,000 applications. This is a pipeline of
work of some $18 billion." Rather than the "chasm" it was
facing, Mr Morrison said the residential building and construction industry now
has almost two years' worth of work.
Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders
Australia, is an agreement with the Prime Minister, saying the program
continues to have a widespread economic impact: "The residential building
industry has a three times multiplier effect of economic activity, the biggest
of any industry... So this is not just saving the jobs of our industry, it's
also saving the jobs of the building supply company. It's also saving those
guys selling the bacon and egg and the coffees at the local store."