Super misstep: Proposed policy could jack up housing prices and slash women’s retirement incomes

This week, the Morrison government announced a new and controversial policy, which allows first home buyers to withdraw up to $50,000 from their superannuation to get into the property market.

Morrison told voters they should have the right to use their super funds to buy their first homes and made the policy the centrepiece of a campaign speech that held out the promise of a “better future” if Australians backed him at the election.

YWCA Australia has serious concerns that this policy is negatively geared in relation to women.

The facts – in Australia women retire with 22-35 per cent less super than their male counterparts. This is a result of the gender pay gap, as well as breaks in work because of caring duties. As we begin to see the effects of the COVID-19 Early Release policy on Australian’s super balances, which allowed the withdrawal of up to $20,000 we are expecting to see the gap widen, especially for young women and women on low incomes who may never recover the retirement savings and the interest they would have earned.

Importantly, Australian women live on average 4 years longer than men, and with their lower super balances, they run out of super much earlier.

As a national not-for-profit focusing on young women’s leadership and housing, YWCA recognises that stable housing for women is critical to achieving gender equity. We work to shine a light on the impact of adverse housing and super policies on women, and on the critical need to address Australia’s housing affordability crisis.

Quotes attributable to Charlotte Dillon, General Manager Community Housing at YWCA Australia:

“This new policy further indicates the Morrison Government’s inadequate understanding of the drivers of gender inequity and housing insecurity. This policy will have serious impacts on women’s superannuation earnings – and stability at a later stage in life, increasing their risk of housing insecurity and making it more difficult for women of all ages to leave situations of domestic violence.

“In the short-term this policy could have serious implications for the skyrocketing cost of housing and further exacerbate the affordability crisis that has pushed far too many women into housing stress.

“34% of single Australian women over 60 live in income poverty (compared to 27% of men). This policy will only serve to increase this disparity.”

“If we want to give women stability in their retirement, we need policies that will address the current housing affordability crisis, not just for homeowners but also renters. This includes building more social housing and developing a National Housing Plan with a Homelessness Strategy that addresses the gendered drivers of women’s housing insecurity across their lifetime.”

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