27 Nov 2017

Housing stocktake 'just smoke and mirrors'

6:41 am on 27 November 2017

The government's pending stocktake of the housing crisis is being dismissed as nothing more than smoke and mirrors by the National party.

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The government says it is time to 'open the books' and 'give New Zealanders an accurate picture of housing in New Zealand. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the stocktake report will provide an up to date picture of the housing market - gathering definitive data on homelessness, the rental market, and the decline of home ownership.

Mr Twyford said it's time the government was upfront with the public.

"For years and years under the past government we just had spin and denial from a government that refused to accept even its own definition of homelessness that suppressed the figures around the number of houses that were being built, the number of affordable houses that were being built."

Mr Twyford also accused the previous government of having kept other crucial housing data under wraps.

"[The data] showed that there's now a shortfall of 71,000 houses in New Zealand!

"So it's time to open the books and I think give New Zealanders an accurate picture of the true state of housing in New Zealand today."

Three experts have been appointed to carry out the housing market stocktake.

They are economist Shamubeel Eaqub, housing academic Philippa Howden-Chapman and long-time community housing advocate Alan Johnson.

But National is questioning why, if the government already has this information at its fingertips, it is necessary for the Housing Minister Phil Twyford to commission a report into it.

And its housing spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said the report writers' views are already well known.

"Well look, they're all very good people, but they've all been quite critical of the previous government and it's either action or inaction."

Mr Woodhouse said the report is just smoke and mirrors.

"These three are only going to ask the same source that the Minister himself is able to ask and has already - so I see no value in the committee," Mr Woodhouse told RNZ.

"And Mr Twyford should be getting on and delivering the promises that he gave to the New Zealand public - which was to increase housing supply by 100,000 dwellings over the next 10 years."

Alan Johnson, who works as the Salvation Army's social policy analyst, will be looking at social housing, housing for the elderly, and rents for the report.

He rejected Mr Woodhouse's criticism of the project.

"It won't be smoke and mirrors - it'll be very much opening the books and looking at what is wrong with our housing policy and housing markets right now," Mr Johnson told RNZ.

"The other issue is of course that some of this data, particularly the data administered by government agencies hasn't always been readily available until now.

"And so, much of the work that we'll uncover I think will be slightly new in the sense that it hasn't seen the light of day before - so it is worth doing," he said.

The stocktake report is due before Christmas and $12,000 has been allocated in total for the writers' fees.

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