Home grant extended

RESPONDING to poor uptake levels in the first three months of the Regional Relocation Grant scheme, the NSW Government has extended the $7000 incentive to those who wish to build a home in regional areas.

The four-year scheme, which began in July, saw less than 50 applications made in the first three months, far below the rate required to meet initial estimates of 10,000 households per year.

The program was initially only open to those wishing to buy an existing home in the country worth less than $600,000.

City dwellers will still have to sell their city homes to take advantage of the newly extended program and they may purchase vacant land up to $450,000 for the building of a new home.

The foundations of the home must be laid within six months of the land purchase and the home must be the main place of residence within 12 months.

Acting premier Andrew Stoner said a publicity campaign would accompany the expansion.

"Expanding the scheme even further will provide the extra incentive for people to make the sea or tree change," Mr Stoner said.

"Building new homes in regional NSW will also provide opportunities for locals, creating jobs and growing the local economy."

The grant is available to families willing to sell in Sydney, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Newcastle, Gosford, Wyong, Wollondilly and Wollongong and buy in regional areas.

The Sydney Morning Herald said the Coalition initially expected the scheme would be taken up by 10,000 households a year, capped at 40,000 across four years.

Opposition spokesman Michael Daley told ABC Radio the scheme should be scrapped altogether.

"Our plan is to invest those funds ... into a regional agriculture and manufacturing promotion scheme," Mr Daley said.

The Examiner tried to contact Mr Stoner's office by phone and email yesterday but received no response.

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