The Ballarat Federal Labor MHR wants the Morrison Government to lift the cap on the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme before the housing construction industry “falls off a cliff”.

Catherine King says around 8493 tradies and 2598 small and family businesses in the Ballarat electorate faced a sharp drop in work without urgent action.

Nationwide, almost a million people work in the construction industry.

“Lifting the cap on the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme for first home buyers who build new homes will encourage construction, keep more local tradies in work, and increase the nation’s housing stock,” she said.

“Labor has been calling on the Government, for over five weeks, to develop and urgently announce a National Housing Stimulus program to save local jobs.”

The Scheme currently helps 10,000 people each financial year with a deposit of as little as five per cent.

They do not need to take out mortgage insurance.

The Housing Minister said the scheme was already at its annual limit within the first six months of operation, but most of the help had been given to people buying existing homes.

“History shows that stimulating housing has been central to national recovery,” Ms King said.

“Labor is therefore calling for the cap to be lifted on the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme for first home buyers who build new homes – subject to the existing income and price caps.”

She said the Federal Opposition would retain the existing cap of 10,000 owners would remain, but only for people buying existing buildings.

Before COVID-19 hit between 171,000 to 160,000 homes were expected to be built this year. 

It is now predicted to be as low as 100,000.

The Master Builders Association and Housing Industry Association are also warning that housing construction work is about to run out.

To fill the gap, Ms King also wants governments, the private sector and superannuation funds to invest in social and affordable housing.

She also wants to see more rental housing for “the true heroes of the COVID-19 crisis” – including nurses, cleaners, aged care workers, supermarket staff – closer to where they work.