We’re pleased to see a group of four announcements in the budget:
·$100m towards to 10 year crown land housing programme
·$224m boost for mental health
·An increase in the Accommodations Supplement of nearly $255m per year to update the benefit levels for 136,000 households.
·Further investment in social housing, particularly for the Housing First initiatives.
While we recognise the importance of emergency housing assistance, without a greater scale of investment in additional social housing places we are not fully addressing the housing problem.
We were looking to the budget for commitment toward a further 8,500 new social housing places (in addition to the 6,400 already announced in December 2016) to bring us to the 15,000 additional places over the next 10 years needed to meet the demand that would end the housing crisis.
Changes in the Accommodation Supplement were long overdue and a welcome announcement, though people will be a wait until April 2018 to receive this. We wonder how big an impact these changes will have on the high housing costs of many households in the missing middle of the continuum – those who can rent but can’t buy.
There’s also a missed opportunity here – there’s no incentives with this increase to make use of the Government’s investment in assisted rental for landlords to provide better quality and affordable housing. Landlords can still increase rents – and they can still charge too much for old, cold and unhealthy homes.
A requirement that all properties receiving any form of taxpayer assistance meet a warm, safe, affordable quality standard would mean that the additional $255m per year could go towards not only improving housing affordability but incentivising new homes that meet a world-class quality standard.
What is missing in the budget is real progress for the ‘missing middle’ households with no direct investment into pathways towards homeownership. We are concerned that the 20% affordable commitment on the crown land programme isn’t yet connecting through to the retailed affordable initiatives that community housing providers are excellent at. We know that genuine affordability needs retention and to be linked to household income.
Here are the announcements:
Finance Minister Steven Joyce was interviewed by Lisa Owen and says his budget treats everyone fairly, but says it’s aimed at families with children and low to middle incomes.
Joyce says 6,000 families will be worse off after the budget by up to $3 a week. Another 200 families will be worse off by more than $3 a week, and there’s a $2million fund set aside to compensate them, but they will need to apply for that compensation.