24 Sep 2019

Risks for Kiwibuild programme revealed

5:27 pm on 24 September 2019

Despite its major overhaul, there are still major red flags for the KiwiBuild programme, as outlined in a risk register.

Housing Minister Megan Woods

New housing minister Megan Woods Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

After ongoing problems with getting houses built, and then finding buyers for them, the Government gave KiwiBuild a makeover.

The target to build 100,000 houses in ten years was dropped, and a new Housing Minister, Megan Woods, was appointed.

However a risk register released to National's Judith Collins showed there were still 12 areas flagged as high risk.

They include a lack of resourcing to establish the programme effectively, losing control of the KiwiBuild 'story', poorly conceived investment decisions, perceptions funding is not being used fairly or transparently and failing to deliver expected outcomes and benefits.

That created the potential for legal challenges and a loss in confidence and trust from ministers and other key stakeholders, said the risk report.

It also lists a number of initiatives being done to manage those risks, including weekly meetings with ministers, a new approach to the work programme, looking at using contractors to fill staffing gaps and handling key data better.

Housing Minister Megan Woods told the House as part of the reset a number of risks and challenges were "identified and addressed".

They included building in areas with little demand, residency requirements putting some buyers off, the difficulty some people had raising a deposit and problems with developer underwrites.

The risk register, she said, was to list "high risk issues that could happen without adequate systems in place to mitigate them".

Ms Collins wanted to know why managing conflicts of interest was flagged.

Again, Ms Woods said that was about a "possible" risk and the register showed it was "being managed".

Legal challenges, including disputes and judicial reviews, relating to handling conflicts of interest and the procurement process were listed as possible risks.

The cause was not having the "capability or capacity" to keep the application and assessment process separate and a "lack of perceived separation between stakeholders and decision-makers".

"Does she agree with her ministry that Kiwibuild may have opened itself to potential legal ramifications due to any unfair processes?" asked Ms Collins.

The minister replied that like any public entity spending public money, KiwiBuild needed to have a "clearly spelt out risk register" that set out the risks and mitigations.

"This is no different than any other departmental risk register - so no I do not agree with her."

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