Just how far Labour have deserted low-income tenants and families in this budget is best illustrated in housing.
When Labour came to office in 2017 there were 5,000 on the state house waiting list. This had ballooned to 25,500 by the end of last year and has been accurately described as a housing “catastrophe” by the Salvation Army.
So what does budget 2022 deliver. Here’s the RNZ budget summary for housing:
- $221m for Affordable Housing Fund
- $1b to support public and transitional housing
- $355m for redesigning emergency housing system
- $75m for Homelessness Action Plan
The $221m for Affordable Housing Fund is to get the children of the middle class into their first home. The other three amounts are for state housing and social housing providers and if taken together ($1.43b) would build just 5,000 homes – in practice a hell of a lot less.
How does that address the 25,500 – and growing – state house waiting list? It doesn’t and Labour is happy to keep it this way.
In essence, by keep down the number of state houses the government is bolstering the incomes of middle-class New Zealanders who have rental properties. Keeping the housing supply tight for low-income families forces these families to stay in private sector rentals and pay impossible rents. The government then subsidises these impossibly high rents through the accommodation supplement rather than build state houses themselves.
For those on low-incomes this is a landlord’s budget.