14 Feb 2017

Govt slashes housing shortfall figure without explanation

2:50 pm on 14 February 2017

The government has yet to explain a significantly lowered estimate of the country's housing shortage.

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Auckland has been estimated to need 13,000 more houses. Photo: 123rf.com

A new figure of 10,000 to 20,000 used by the Prime Minister yesterday is about half of the government's own estimate of Auckland's housing shortfall alone.

Auckland's housing shortage has been worsening each year since a government report released in 2013 by the then Housing Minister Nick Smith, put it at between 20,000 and 30,000 dwellings.

The Auckland Council's own estimates are currently around 40,000, and according to forecasts agreed with the government, the shortage was getting worse each year.

Auckland has been estimated to need 13,000 more houses and ANZ bank has put the nationwide shortage at 60,000.

"That just re-emphasises the uncertainty," the building and construction minister Nick Smith told Morning Report, when asked to explain the gap in two sets of government figures.

Dr Smith said the estimates were crude and the figures depended on calculations about the average number of people per household.

A housing strategist and former Housing NZ executive Leonie Freeman backed the higher Auckland estimate, and said the mis-match in figures was a problem.

"What we haven't got our finger on the pulse about is even the severity of the housing problem, with accurate information," she told RNZ.

Dr Smith's office has not yet responded to RNZ questions about the basis for the new lower estimate.

However this morning Prime Minister Bill English provided a hint to RNZ.

"There'll be some estimates in the official papers, I've always been a bit sceptical about the value of them.

"We're not trying to run a policy on the estimate of a shortage, we're just looking at the prices," he said.

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