22 May 2024

Government killing homeownership dreams, giving billions to landlords - Chris Hipkins

10:19 am on 22 May 2024
Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins.

Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

The government talks of funding social housing, while criticising Labour's spending on the same, leader Chris Hipkins says.

It comes as the government considers scrapping first home grants - which cost about about $60 million a year - in favour of putting more money towards social housing.

The scheme pays out grants of $5000 for an existing home, or $10,000 for a new-build, to first-home buyers whose income is less than $95,000, or $150,000 as a household.

It was not a huge sum like "they're giving billions of dollars of tax cuts to landlords", Hipkins told Morning Report.

"Their priorities here are all wrong."

The tax deductions for landlords will cost the government $2.9 billion in lost revenue over the next four years.

It seemed like the government wanted "to smash the dream of home ownership for an entire generation of New Zealanders".

He said the grants helped Kiwis into their first home.

"They're paying their own mortgage and building up an asset for themselves."

Social housing also needed to be funded, Hipkins said.

"Of course we should put more money into social housing. It is ironic that the government are talking about channelling the $60 million into social housing when the billions that we put into social housing is being criticised."

Hipkins said the government would still have to financially support the community-based sector.

"The last government under Bill English and John Key tried this and they found that actually the community-based sector needs government capital in order to build new houses. So the government would still be financially on the hook."

When National was in opposition in 2021 it criticised the Labour government for not paying out enough grants.

Housing Minister Chris Bishop said the coalition intended to review all of its housing products and funds, and could not commit to maintaining the existing level of support for first-home buyers.

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