Calls for help from hundreds of distraught HomeBuilder applicants who say they unfairly missed out on the lucrative grant due to technical issues have been heeded after a backflip from the Victorian and Queensland state governments.
As first reported by nine.com.au earlier this month, a growing number of applicants thought they had successfully applied for the $15,000-$25,000 Federal Government grant through an online portal.

However, when they attempted to log back into the portal to submit further documents after the April 14 cut-off date, they found there was no record of their accounts.

Kassie Suter and her husband thought they had successfully applied for the HomeBuilder grant but were told there was no record of their application.
Kassie Suter and her husband thought they had successfully applied for the HomeBuilder grant but were told there was no record of their application. (Supplied)
Applicants told nine.com.au the online application system was confusing and they were led to believe they needed only to start the application process rather than pressing a “submit” button if they did not have all the required documents yet.

Although the HomeBuilder scheme is a Federal Government initiative, administering the online portals is the responsibility of the state governments.

Last week, both Victoria’s State Revenue Office (SRO) and Queensland Treasury said their hands were tied over the issue because they had “no discretion” to accept late applications under a National Partnership Agreement (NPA) with the Commonwealth.

However, the two states have now had a change in heart, announcing today anyone who started their application before April 14 will now be able to complete it as a “gesture of goodwill”.

“It has been established that a number of people started a HomeBuilder Grant application within the online portal but did not provide all of their details and click on ‘submit’ before the 14 April 2021 closing date,” a spokesperson for Victoria’s SRO said.

“The Victorian Commissioner of State Revenue is now extending an opportunity for these prospective applicants to complete their HomeBuilder Grant application as a gesture of goodwill, if they registered their email address and had commenced an application by entering their unique code within the HomeBuilder portal by the closing date.”

Emails were sent from both Victoria and Queensland Offices of State Revenue today to affected applicants informing them of the decision.

The online portal is expected to be reopened to the affected applicants within the next 7-10 days.

It is not yet clear if other states will also follow Victoria and Queensland’s lead.

However, the vast majority of complaints about the issue appear to have come from Victoria and Queensland.

Jemma Baker and her family bought a block of land and were planning to build their dream home with the help of the HomeBuilder grant.
Jemma Baker and her family bought a block of land and were planning to build their dream home with the help of the HomeBuilder grant. (Supplied)

The backflip comes after Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass confirmed her office had been in discussions with the SRO over the issue.

It is understood Ms Glass’s office received 85 complaints from HomeBuilder applicants about the online portal.

Bendigo mum-of-three Kassie Suter said she was excited and relieved to see an email from the SRO in her inbox today informing her of the reprieve.

The Suter family had applied for the HomeBuilder grant after purchasing a block of land in December last year.

Like so many, Ms Suter believed she had done all the right things in her online application but was “mortified” when the SRO told her there was no record of her application.

“I was so excited to get the email. It’s amazing, it just feels like a weight has been lifted off us, because it was so much money to lose.”

Jemma Baker, from Neerim in southern Victoria, also almost missed out on the $25,000 grant but will now be given a second chance.

While Ms Baker said she was delighted with the SRO’s decision, she was still frustrated that she and her family were forced to spend so much time trying to fight for what was rightfully theirs.

“I have three children, I don’t have time to be doing this. I feel like I have spent so many hours trying to get this sorted, making calls, sending emails and going in to see my local member of parliament,” she said.

“It is worth it for $25,000 but it should have been much easier than it was.”

Contact reporter Emily McPherson at emcpherson@nine.com.au.



This content first appear on 9news

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