National Government Fails Housing In Budget

Published: Sun 23 May 2010 10:45 AM
National Government Fails Housing In Budget
The Government has dropped the ball on Housing in Budget 2010, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Moana Mackey says.
“After the 2008 election Housing Minister Phil Heatley was very vocal about the need to increase and improve Housing New Zealand’s state housing stock. He is not so vocal this year given cuts of more than 80 per cent in state house acquisition and maintenance,” Moana Mackey said.
“At a time when housing pressures are at an all time high, Phil Heatley doesn’t think we need any more social housing in New Zealand. Maybe he should say that to the more than 10,000 people still sitting on Housing New Zealand waiting lists around the country.
Ms Mackey said cuts to healthy housing initiatives and state house maintenance budgets would hit the most vulnerable families the hardest.
“Just when all household costs are going to rise thanks to the National Government’s GST increase and inflation blowout, Phil Heatley is cutting funding for programmes which would make homes warm and healthy and save families money on power bills and doctors visits.
Ms Mackey said that private sector tenants are also likely to face an increase in rents due to property tax changes in Budget 2010.
“Infometrics predicts rental inflation will be 5 per cent by March next year reaching 8 per cent by 2012.
“This is bad news for the 30 per cent of Kiwi households who rent, half of which have a combined household income of less than $50,000 per annum. These are the very people who will be paying more under Budget 2010 for all the basics including food, clothing, power, and petrol, and now they can add a rent increase to that list.”
“Instead of providing assistance to keep these families in their homes, Housing Minister Phil Heatley and Finance Minister Bill English have chosen to bury their heads in the sand, with the Finance Minister claiming that any increase would only be small.
“Even if that were true, what may seem like a small increase to the Minister of Finance could be the difference between keeping or losing your home for those struggling to get by,” Ms Mackey said.
Ms Mackey said the Government’s moves to provide affordable housing for first home buyers also appear to have disappeared.
“What has happened to the Minister’s long anticipated Gateway affordable housing policy? We’ve been promised action for two Budgets and still nothing has eventuated.
“The Salvation Army’s State of the Nation Report earlier this year highlighted the increasing housing shortage, especially in Auckland. In Manukau City alone one house is being built for every fourteen new residents.
“Budget 2010 shows the Government has no plan to alleviate this pressure. In fact GST increases are only going to make it harder to address housing shortages.
Ms Mackey said that Budget 2010 also did nothing to address the increasing problem of homelessness in New Zealand.
“The Salvation Army also reported that an estimated 20,000 people in Auckland alone are now considered homeless. Homelessness is a social and economic blight that must be addressed. This is now more urgent given increases in the cost of living and rents, and no increases in social housing, which will only exacerbate the situation.”
Ms Mackey said that it seems the highlight of the Housing Budget for Mr Heatley was that he managed to retain the $20million Housing Innovation Fund which is expected to fund 47 units over the next year.
“It’s a shame the rest of his appropriation was slashed and burned.
“But even this appropriation needs to be put into context given Housing New Zealand has spent $11 million dollars on building a business case for a computer system upgrade that its own consultancy reports says it doesn’t need. Imagine what that money could do if it was used to actually build or maintain houses?” Ms Mackey said.
“Budget 2010 confirms that the Government has its priorities all wrong, and has no plan for appropriate and affordable housing in New Zealand.”

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