28 Jan 2015

Call for specifics ahead of PM's speech

12:14 pm on 28 January 2015

The Salvation Army wants the Prime Minister to deliver specifics as to how vulnerable people will be better off because of the social housing plan he is announcing today.

John Key

Prime Minister John Key is due to begin his speech shortly in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Follow live coverage of Prime Minister John Key's State of the Nation speech at midday here.

In a state-of-the-nation speech in Auckland at 12.30pm, John Key will outline how many state houses the Government intends to sell.

Mr Key has said some houses may go to community housing providers and some could end up in the hands of private landlords.

Salvation Army's director of social policy and parliamentary Sue Hay said community providers should not be getting involved unless they knew by doing so they could do a better job for tenants.

"We want to hear detail, and we want to know that vulnerable New Zealanders will be better off as a result of the policies he's going to announce - we're specifically looking for additional housing, affordable housing in Auckland and Christchurch," Ms Hay said.

Ms Hay said the money from the sale of the houses should be reinvested in social housing stock and that she was wary of the Government's approach.

"I don't know that the Government has identified what success looks like ... What is success, is success selling houses or is success ensuring vulnerable New Zealanders are better off?"

"I don't think we have enough detail to say that we have a measure on that yet," she said.

In response to claims the Government was merely hawking off state assets, Ms Hay said there was potential for this to happen.

Ms Hay said this was underpinning the organisation's cautious approach to the plan.

"We want to be sure that this isn't just about money, it needs to be about the lives of people, it needs to be about social wellbeing," she said.

"It needs philosophical foundation to say people are going to be better off, that it's more than a financial transaction."

Ms Hay said the Government could be palming off responsibility for social housing to other providers but she said the state needed to remain a key provider of affordable social housing.

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