15 Dec 2021

Minister believes MSD should have told her about paying inflated rents for emergency accomodation

From Morning Report, 7:20 am on 15 December 2021

The Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni believes her department won't repeat the mistakes which saw money pumped into private rentals at inflated rates for sometimes sub-standard emergency accommodation.

A scathing review by the Auditor General found that between November 2017 and June 2020, the Ministry for Social Development shelled out more than $37 million to the private landlords and property managers to house homeless people.

The review says front line Ministry staff "seemed to have little control over what they would pay" and that landlords were often able to name their price - in some cases, triple the market rate.

Carmel Sepuloni says she was not aware of the spending on private rentals and told Morning Report that she should have been told what was happening.

"It certainly came as a surprise, I did feel it was a decision that I should have been bought in on the loop on.

"However, by the time I found out the practice had stopped, they had realized that there were unintended consequences to doing what they were doing.

"The intention, I have to say, when they started doing it was good, but the consequences had not been well thought through."