Thursday 14 May 2020
Rebuilding New Zealand post-Covid-19 was, as promised, the focus of Budget 2020 – and it turns out that includes the roll-out of a big social housing building programme.
By Miriam Bell
Finance Minister Grant Robertson delivered the Government’s much-anticipated Covid-19 recovery Budget this afternoon.
While economic and business support, including job creation, dominated the announcements and initiatives, infrastructure development featured strongly too.
In line with that, the Government plans to deliver an extra 8,000 new public and transitional homes through Budget 2020 funding.
The extra 8,000 homes announced will be made up of 6,000 public housing homes and 2,000 transitional homes.
This will be financed by $5 billion of building through the Kāinga Ora borrowing programme, along with investment in Community and Transitional Housing providers.
Additionally, Budget 2020 allots $570 million in Income Related Rent Subsidy funding to tenants.
Robertson says this will improve affordability by increasing the supply of houses and also provide a shot in the arm to the residential construction sector as New Zealand emerges from the Covid-19 crisis.
Budget 2020’s housing funding was also highlighted as a move that will stimulate the residential construction sector, create jobs and reduce the housing shortage by Housing Minister Megan Woods.
It takes the number of public and transitional houses funded by this Government to approximately 17,000 and represents the largest public housing building programme in recent decades, she says.
“This multi-year investment sends a strong signal to the construction sector so it can plan with certainty to secure investment, retain staff and further enhance the skills of its workforce. The economic impact of more than $5 billion of construction activity will be significant.”
As well as helping to rebuild the economy, building, and providing more warm, dry and secure housing will go a long way to creating a better, fairer society for all New Zealanders, Woods adds.
It’s worth noting that, in his Budget speech, Robertson also said further support for housing development and construction, including in the private residential market, will be a critical element of the recovery from Covid-19.
It is planned that this will be the subject of further investment in the next phase of the newly announced $50 billion Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
Budget 2020 allotted $15.9bn of this fund to an extension of the wage subsidy scheme to the hardest hit businesses, free trades training, and the public home building programme.
Nearly $14 billion has gone to previously announced initiatives and that leaves about $20 billion unspent, pending further investment announcements.
The other major housing-related announcement in Budget 2020 was a $56 million boost to the Government’s Warmer Kiwi Homes insulation and heating programme.
However, a spokesperson for Woods has confirmed that this programme is aimed at low-income homeowners and does not include residential landlords.