Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses
Another broken promise from National…
On 12 June, Social Housing Minister, Paula Bennet was interviewed on Radio NZ’s ‘Nine to Noon‘ programme. Kathryn Ryan asked why there were so many thousands of State houses in desperate need on maintenance.
In the interview, Bennett claimed that money was not a problem in Housing NZ’s maintenance programme;
“What I will say is that it’s not a money problem. So there is enough money there for us to get that stock up. It is a big programme of work that is constantly ongoing…
…So it’s not a matter of neglect.”
And again @ 5.41
“Which is really my point. So we’re saying it’s not actually about the money. The money is there to be spent for maintenance.”
Bennett’s statements were a parroting of Bill English’s previous claim, made on 5 June on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘, who also denied money was the core problem of run-down Housing NZ properties;
“They’ve done a very large scale programme – insulated every house that it can, which is 48,000 houses over the last four or five years.
It’s got to deal with the same limitations of process as everybody else, it’s got to get consents, it’s got to find a workforce, but it’s not short of money to do the job.”
Bennett and English have both blamed lack of tradesmen and other spurious excuses for rundown houses.
from: Frank Macskasy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
to: Nine To Noon RNZ <email@example.com>
date: Fri, Jun 12, 2015
subject: Paula Bennet on Housing maintenance funding.
Kia ora Kathryn,Paula Bennett’s assertion that Housing NZ has plenty of funds for maintenance is at variance with this statement from Housing NZ’s 2013/14 Annual Report;
.The responsive repairs programme, which includes work on vacant properties, is dependent on demand, which was higher than expected in 2013/14. Consequently, the budget was overspent due to higher volumes of work orders. The average cost per work order was also higher as a result of more comprehensive repairs and upgrades being carried out on vacant properties. To mitigate this overspend, we deliberately reduced the planned maintenance programme, which decreased the percentage of maintenance spend on planned activity. [p28]
Furthermore, on page 36 of the 2013/14 Annual Report, Repairs and Maintenance is given as $220 million for the period.This is $1 billion less than the $1.2 billion quoted by Bill English to TVNZ’s Corin Dann on 24 March, this year.
Either Bennett is ignorant, or she is spinning.
Either way, not a good look.
Ms Ryan read out my email, on air, subsequent to the interview.
Hopefully, the media will pick up on what is obviously a gross distortion from National’s spin doctors. By asserting that there is no lack of money available, this shifts responsibility from government to blaming others for lack of maintenance.
It also deflects attention from the fact that National has used Housing NZ as a cash cow by demanding dividends, in a futile attempt by Bill English to balance the government books and post a surplus (which he has also failed at spectacularly), as this ‘Dominion Post‘ editorial highlighted;
This year the Government expects to get $220m in tax and dividends from the corporation. It wants profits as well as social services. And it is also in thrall to its ideology of semi-privatisation.
Housing NZ was explicit in it’s 2013/14 Annual Report;
The responsive repairs programme, which includes work on vacant properties, is dependent on demand, which was higher than expected in 2013/14. Consequently, the budget was overspent due to higher volumes of work orders. The average cost per work order was also higher as a result of more comprehensive repairs and upgrades being carried out on vacant properties. To mitigate this overspend, we deliberately reduced the planned maintenance programme, which decreased the percentage of maintenance spend on planned activity. [p28]
It is up to the media to challenge Ministers when they make assertions that are patently untrue.
Radio NZ: The state of state housing
Housing NZ: 2013/14 Annual Report
Fairfax media: Budget 2014 – The essential guide
Dominion Post: Editorial – Government stumbles over its housing policy
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 June 2015.
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