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Home insulation scheme saved but more needed

16 May 2013

Home insulation scheme saved but more needed

The Green Party is celebrating that its efforts have saved the home insulation programme but is disappointed that National has chosen to reduce funding for this hugely successful policy, Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said today.

Budget 2013 contains a new round of funding for home insulation. The funding of $100m over three years is significantly less than the $347m over four years for the current scheme that was introduced as a result of the Greens’ Memorandum of Understanding with the Government. Unlike the current scheme, the new programme is highly targeted rather than being an open subsidy for households to access.

“The Greens fought hard to save funding for home insulation and we’ve succeeded. That there’s some new money is a win but, nevertheless, the new scheme is not as good as Kiwi families deserve. The reduced funding means fewer homes insulated and fewer jobs,” said Mrs Turei.

“$100 million is simply too small an investment. It will pay to insulate only 46,000 of the approximately 700,000 underinsulated homes in New Zealand. Without more money, hundreds of thousands of Kiwis kids will continue to get sick needlessly and the economy will suffer from workers taking more sick leave.

“There is no doubt that insulating homes realises huge benefits for families and the economy. For every dollar invested in insulation there are $5 of health improvements, much of which comes as savings to the public health system. There’s no reason to delay getting these benefits. The faster we get these homes warm and dry, the better.

“We’re also concerned that reducing government funding for insulation from an average of $87m to $33m a year will cost jobs. The industry has estimated that a thousand jobs will go because of National’s funding cut. That’s terrible at a time of high unemployment. Home insulation has provided valuable work experience and training to young people who might otherwise struggle to find work in the tough job market.

“National hasn’t adequately explained how we will ensure the most at-need families get their homes insulated. Most of these families rent and landlords have made little use of the insulation scheme to date.

“The Greens think that landlords should be required to meet insulation standards for homes that they rent out, and I raised with Minister Bridges the issue of allowing landlords to write-off insulation costs as a capital expense. Unfortunately, National hasn’t adopted these measures, so it’s hard to see how they will ensure that the limited insulation funds get to where they’re most needed.

“The Greens have saved the home insulation scheme. When we’re in government, we will make it bigger and better,” said Mrs Turei.

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