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Will National put housing squeeze on poor children

6 September, 2005

Will National put housing squeeze on poor children?

“National’s housing policy, posted yesterday, is potentially serious for many low income families,” said Dr Ian Hassall, spokesperson for Every Child Counts.

“In proposing to re-introduce market rentals for state housing, National will reverse the trend of the last few years toward affordability of accommodation for low income families with children.”

“In 1994, 49% of all low income households were paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. At this level of housing cost, household budgets are severely stretched. By 2004, the proportion of low income families spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing had fallen to 35 percent, through a mix of circumstances and provisions including government state and rental housing policies. It looks as if National’s policy will reverse this trend,” said Dr Hassall.

National’s housing policy says: ‘We will ensure there is equity between private rentals and state home rentals, and will ensure direct payment of the Accommodation Supplement to the landlord if the tenant agrees’ and ‘National will promote the concept of home ownership’.

“If the Accommodation Supplement was increased or made flexible it might avoid the problem but there is no suggestion that that is what National proposes.” “The policy statement is sketchy and it is possible that there are plans for low income families to be adequately assisted with housing costs, We would like a clear and unequivocal statement from National on how it proposes to assist the children of low income families affected by its proposed return to market economics,” said Dr Hassall.

Every Child Counts is a coalition of organisations including Barnardos, Plunket, Save the Children, Unicef NZ and AUT’s Institute of Public Policy, supported by more than 340 other organisations and thousands of individual supporters. It aims for a commitment from the incoming government to place children and their families at the centre of their plans and decision-making processes.


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