For immediate release
— Wellington, Monday 29 October 2012.
Government’s housing response a welcome next step.
The Government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s report on housing affordability is a welcome next step to addressing the growing housing shortage, says The Salvation Army.
Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit Director Major Campbell Roberts applauded the Government for accepting almost all of the Commission’s 35 recommendations. “Government has clearly taken both the Commission’s report and the question of housing affordability quite seriously in its response,” Major Roberts said.
“Essentially the Government has acknowledged that the Productivity Commission has correctly identified many of the underlying causes of housing affordability,” Major Roberts says.
“While The Salvation Army would suggest that some of these causes, such as the role of taxation should have had greater emphasis, we broadly agree with the underlying analysis of the Commission.”
However, Major Roberts says many of the individual responses merely identify further work to be done either by Government agencies or local councils.
“The real challenge we face now is ensuring that this further work is completed and implemented,” he says.
Past efforts by previous governments to address housing affordability have inevitably petered out through lack of long-term commitment, Major Roberts says. “The result has been that the affordability and availability of housing for low and modest-income New Zealanders has progressively gotten worse.”
“If we are to seriously address the issues of housing affordability and availability, we need to appreciate that it is a long-term challenge of a decade or more, and that it will require substantial increases in budgets as well as legislative and regulatory reform,” Major Roberts says.
The Salvation Army welcomes the social housing reform programme presently underway and the longer-term budget commitment, which Government has made to this programme, Major Roberts said.
“The budgets as they stand are woefully inadequate and the housing problems of low-income New Zealanders will not be fully addressed unless these budgets are increased significantly” he says.
“While we all acknowledge that the Government’s finances are constrained at present, as we emerge from recession we should be making greater public and private investment in affordable housing our top priority.”
Issued on the Authority of Commissioner Donald Bell
The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory