25 Jul 2017

VIDEO: National's affordable housing plan 'woefully inadequate' - Little

8:51 am on 25 July 2017

Labour is describing National's affordable housing plan for Auckland as smoke and mirrors.

It says the city's population is growing by more than 100 people a day and the government's programme to build just over one affordable house a day is a joke.

Watch Susie Ferguson's interview with Labour leader Andrew Little on Morning Report:

The National government is setting up a new agency, Crown Infrastructure Partners, with $300 million a year for two years to help fund housing infrastructure across the country, with a focus on Auckland.

It has also set up a $1 billion fund providing interest-free loans of up to 10 years to pay for network roading and water infrastructure for nine housing projects in Auckland, Hamilton, Waikato, Tauranga and Queenstown.

The first spend of that fund will help the five councils build 60,000 new homes.

However, Mr Little has argued that of the 26,000 houses National plans to build on public land in Auckland over the next decade, just 18 percent - fewer than 5000 - would be affordable homes.

His party's stated policy is to build 50,000 affordable houses in Auckland.

"Affordable houses - and our programme - is all about houses built at cost and at a level that is considerably below the average cost of houses built at the moment," he told Morning Report.

"So we think we can get houses around the $500,000, 600,000 mark.

"[National] said at the time they made the announcement, there's 26,000 net extra houses - 20 to 50 percent would be affordable.

"It now turns out that it's way less than 20 percent are affordable - and for a city that is 40,000 houses short of what it needs now, that's woefully inadequate."

He said getting house prices in the city to fall would not be part of Labour's plan, but a full review of the tax system would be.

"What that looks like, let's see what the experts tell us, but fiddling around with the tax system isn't going to build another house.

"That's the only solution that you can do when you've got a shortage of housing."

He said Labour was also wanting to cut immigration: up to 20,000 international students a year plus work visas for semi-skilled work.

"What we will do is add a bit more sophistication to our immigration policy, manage it in a way that is dealing with regional skills shortages and labour shortages."

Labour would not need to maintain current immigration levels to specific regions to deal with skills shortages, he said.

"Generally adding wealth and therefore lifting incomes for New Zealand - through our regional economic development plan, through things like research and development tax credits - that's how you grow the economy.

"Just relying on immigration to do it at a time when we're chronically short of housing, when we have traffic congestion in our big cities, and our schools are overcrowded, that's not a growth strategy at all."

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