26 Aug 2017

Labour criticises Auckland teacher bonds scheme

7:01 am on 26 August 2017

National's scheme to pay graduate teachers an extra $17,000 to work in Auckland is unfair on other front-line workers and an admission their housing policies have failed, The Labour Party says.

A photo of school kids with one trailing slightly behind

Photo: 123RF

The government has announced its Voluntary Bonding Scheme, introduced in 2009 to attract staff to low-decile schools in Auckland, will be extended to all schools in the city, where the average home now costs more than $1 million.

That price barrier has been pushing teachers to seek employment elsewhere.

However, Labour's Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford said it was "a bandaid solution" to the housing crisis, which the government had "ignored for nine years".

"The proposed extension of the teacher bonding scheme will be great for young teachers needing assistance with living in Auckland.... [but] what about other public servants and emergency service workers struggling to cope with the housing crisis, like nurses, firefighters and police?"

A Labour-led government would tax property speculators and build large numbers of affordable homes, he said.

Under its Kiwibuild programme, Labour has pledged to build 100,000 affordable homes over ten years, of which half will be in Auckland.

Under the current scheme, eligible teachers get $10,500 at the end of their third year teaching at a low-decile or hard-to-staff school. They get a further $3500 at the end of their fourth and fifth years.

National Party education spokesperson Nikki Kaye said the scheme would be available for all new Auckland teachers from next year, but the amount of money could be slightly less.

Ministry of Education figures show that 121 graduate teachers across the country received cash under the Voluntary Bond Scheme last year.

Some 59 teachers have been granted it this year. That figure has been dropping since 2013 when 283 teachers were given grants.

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