Budget 2017 was delivered by Finance Minister Steven Joyce this afternoon but Property Institute of New Zealand chief executive, Ashley Church, says he is surprised it was not used to lessen Auckland’s housing shortage and this risks giving an impression the Government "either doesn't understand the extent of the problem, or simply doesn't care".
The government has $100 million set aside for the Vacant or Underutilised Crown Land programme plus $20 million to help more people into Emergency Housing.
It plans to invest more than $2.72 billion in housing over the next four years, including the first phase of the Auckland Housing Programme.
Church said the Budget failed to address housing affordability for first home buyers and also how fast new homes are being built or bought by private sector buyers.
"Auckland needs 40,000 new homes, right now - and the best way to achieve this at least cost to the taxpayer is to encourage private buyers to start building rather than buying existing homes - so we had hoped that the budget would contain a suite of measures to incentivise people to do this. But there's nothing even remotely targeted to this purpose, and the problem is no closer to being resolved today than it was yesterday.
"We were also hoping to see further measures designed to alleviate the pressure on first home buyers. Perhaps a new Government Equity Program designed to assist with the deposit or suspensory loans in the early stages of a mortgage which could be repaid further down the track. But there's absolutely nothing in the budget to achieve this either.”
Although Church acknowledged the Government’s announcement last week to build 34,000 new houses in Auckland over the next 10 years was a great first step, he stressed that it was only a small part of the necessary solution.
"The building program will add around 2,700 more homes to the market each year for the next 10 years. That's great - but it's nowhere near enough to solve the problem. I'd have expected to see new initiatives showing that the Government also understood that it needed to engage the support of the private sector in solving this. Sadly - there are no such initiatives and the attitude seems to be one of 'that's us - we're done'.”
Church also acknowledged the extra cash being handed out to households but believed this didn't offset the lack of more robust housing policies.
"An extra $26 bucks a week will mean a lot to some - but it's cold comfort for someone trying to get into a home. We needed to see more".
More to come.