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National questions success of home scheme

Phil Heatley MP
National Party Housing Spokesman

13 August 2006

National questions success of home scheme

National Party Housing spokesman Phil Heatley says he has yet to see evidence that Labour’s expanded mortgage insurance programme is hitting the mark, and will not simply entice people further into debt.

“When the mis-named Welcome Home Loans scheme was launched we were promised 8,000 customers a year. Embarrassingly they’ve only mustered 1,600 takers, despite the taxpayer spending more than $1,000 in marketing for each successful applicant.”

Mr Heatley says National is absolutely supportive of New Zealanders’ home ownership ambitions, but also cautious about encouraging first home buyers to take on even bigger debts.

“Essentially that’s what this programme does, allows bigger loans than would otherwise be possible. Now they’re expanding it to a larger market with greater borrowing potential. A responsible Government should always be cautious about encouraging people further into the debt trap.”

He notes that last year Finance Minister Michael Cullen took the banks to task for luring people into debt.

Mr Heatley says Housing Minister Chris Carter should monitor the mortgage insurance scheme more closely and report regularly. He should also reveal whether it will now get an additional boost to its already enormous marketing budget.

“I’d also caution the media from reading too much into the much talked about home equity scheme. This programme first surfaced in July 2003. Last year Labour said it was a done deal, but there are still no specifics.

“Every time there are more negative statistics about home ownership Labour talks about this stuff. The public could be forgiven if they’re sick of waiting,” says Mr Heatley.


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