CASH grants of up to $25,000 to assist in the building of new homes will not only encourage couple like Angelina Maiuolo and Lachlan Gray to get into the housing market, it will keep valuable construction jobs as well.
The federal government is expected to release a construction package this week which will see grants offered to new home owners and for those who are planning renovations.
For Ms Maiuolo and Mr Gray, both retail workers who recently experienced a downturn in their job, the opportunity gives them a chance to enter the housing market.
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"It's so much effort in order to save that initial deposit, so every little bit helps," Ms Maiuolo said.
"We've rented together for over a year and we are both determined that we want to buy our home.
"I think having so much time off has really shown us what can be achieved and it's enabled us to save like we didn't know we were able to."
The $688 million HomeBuilder program will offer grants to people who sign contracts to build or substantially renovate their home until the end of the year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says this will drive a "tradie-led recovery" of the economy.
"If you've been putting off that renovation or new build, the extra $25,000 we're putting on the table along with record low interest rates means now's the time to get started," he said on Thursday.
The government anticipates the package will support 140,000 direct construction jobs and a million workers in the wider residential building sector.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese rubbished the job-creation claims and said the scheme was restrictive and poorly targeted.
He scolded the government for refusing to fund social or affordable housing projects.
The construction sector faces massive job losses once projects already under way tail off, with people cautious about new home builds amid the economic downturn.
To date, 30 per cent of work has been cancelled.
The grants are open to people earning less than $125,00 a year or $200,000 per couple.
They can be used for new homes valued up to $750,000 including land, or renovations worth between $150,000 and $750,000 that will result in the property being priced at $1.5 million or less.
The money can't be used on investment properties or to build things outside the house such as swimming pools, tennis courts, outdoor spas and saunas, sheds or garages.
Work has to be done by a licensed builder, so owner-builders and DIY renovators miss out.
The program is demand-driven, but the price tag suggests the government expects about 27,500 people to take up the offer.
Before the virus, the sector forecast 171,000 new builds would start this year but that has now dropped to 111,000.
Grants will be paid via the states once each jurisdiction signs up.
It is one of several industry-specific packages the government is currently weighing up for struggling sectors as it moves away for full-economy assistance measures.
Ms Maiuolo said any assistance would not only support home buyers, but also support the construction industry.
"It will definitely help the construction industry," she said.
"It will keep them working, they need it and it's all the flow on effect as well.
"We were hoping for the first home buyers grant, but if we can get something like this on top as well, it will allow us to do things we only dreamt of."
Burbank Group Managing Director Jarrod Sanfilippo said any federal support to the industry was welcomed.
"The last few months have been hard for families, and many people have had to put their home building plans on hold," Mr Sanfilippo said.
"Anything the government can do to restore hope and get people into their new home faster is good for all Australians.
"The construction industry is the biggest employer in the country.
"Here in Ballarat we've seen new homes go up all over the region in the past few years.
"The growth has been phenomenal, and we want to keep all those builders and suppliers in local jobs. It's hugely important for the local economy, especially as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis."
The package is expected to be means-tested to include those households earning up to $200,000, but will only be available for several months to avoid inflating house prices.
Mr Sanfilippo said Burbank would support eligible customers to access any cash grants that are made available.
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