26 May 2017
Budget 2017 partly delivers social investment in housing
Community housing organisations say there are gains in the 2017 budget but wider investment in housing would have had greater positive social outcomes for New Zealanders.
Increases in the accommodation supplement and family tax credit will provide increased rental assistance to some 136,000 households outside of social housing but won’t be available until April 2018.
“We congratulate Government on the proposed changes to the Accommodation Supplement. Government’s message has been that investment in housing is an investment in good social outcomes.
"Budget 2017 has missed the opportunity to fully deliver on that promise,” says Scott Figenshow CE of Community Housing Aotearoa.
“This is a big investment and is a long overdue.
“It shows real commitment to delivering for many low income Kiwis yet most are desperate for this assistance now and we can’t see why it can’t be made available from 1 July this year."
Scott Figenshow says the budget was an opportunity to permanently index the Accommodation Supplement to inflation, like NZ Super.
“That would put children and families on equal footing with pensioners.
“We would also like to have seen Government take this opportunity to link the Accommodation Supplement to incentives for better quality housing.
“We are pleased to see Government build on the success of the Housing First model by budgeting $16.5 million into these programmes for the next four years and extending this over New Zealand.
“The $27million investment into Māori housing over the next three to four years is also positive,” he says.
“However, given the extent of housing need across the country, it will not be nearly enough. These levels of funding only keep us treading water, not getting ahead.
“If Government are to achieve their Better Public Service target of a 20 per cent reduction in the time it takes to house priority clients on the social housing register, they will need to do go much further than they have.”
“The priority A social housing waiting list number grew by 49% last year and indicates that housing investment is not well enough connected up to make an impact on seeing all New Zealanders well housed.
“This is where the budget fails to connect the dots and truly deliver on Government’s social investment promise.
“A real social investment would have also included an equal size investment in home ownership assistance, as it is one of the most effective ways to help households move along the housing continuum into housing independence.
That investment could have been a further $1Billion instead of building new prisons, he says.
“If we‘re going to see real change in New Zealand’s housing by 2030 Government needed to commit to another 8,600 social homes, above the 6,400 new IRRS funding Government have already committed to in December 2016. We are still missing the ten-year funding pipeline across New Zealand that would end the housing crisis."