THE state government’s $7000 handout designed to entice city folk to relocate to regional areas has fallen flat with less than 700 households applying for the grant in the last year.
The relocation grant complemented the federal government’s Evocities initiative designed to entice people to sell their city homes and move to Orange, Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.
Evocities advocate Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean told the Central Western Daily he was surprised the $7000 grant hadn’t been better utilised.
“I think the [state] government should keep the project going,” he said.
“I see it as part of a broader commitment to what we are trying to do so I’d urge the [state] government not to scrap it.”.
He said the grant and the Evocities initiative worked well together and continued commitment to both schemes would lead to an increasing number of people relocating to country and regional areas.
Orange mayor John Davis said he too was surprised the grant hadn’t proved more popular, but said he was a big supporter of the Evocities push.
“Evocities has been fantastic for Orange and helped keep the city at the forefront of government’s minds when it comes to funding,” he said.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee said despite a low take-up rate for the grant, Orange had no problem attracting people to the area.
Mr Gee said the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the Orange area had the second highest population growth outside of Sydney.
He said the small number of people taking advantage of the $7000 grant may force the state government to look at different ways to use the money.
“Really we need to have a look at why people aren’t taking it up,” he said.
“Mudgee and Orange are having problems keeping up with infrastructure and people are moving here regardless of the grant.
“We’ll have to look at ways of recalibrating the grant to make it more effective.”
Mr Gee said the low take-up figures may be related to the economic climate or not enough people knowing about the grant.
The state government initially expected 10,000 householders to take advantage of the scheme, but later revised the number to 7000 a year.