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NZCTU calls for clarity on how National’s Housing promise will be paid for

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff has today called for clarity from National about how their promise to end the state housing waitlist will be delivered.

Chris Bishop told RNZ this morning that National will “build enough state and social housing so that there is no social housing waitlist”.

Wagstaff said “There are currently more than 26,500 applicants on the waitlist. Assuming a build cost of $500,000 per unit this amounts to a promise of more than $13bn in new spending. The simple question is…where is that money coming from?”

Wagstaff said “Bishop should be straight with New Zealanders. You can’t cut debt, retain essential public services, cut taxes, and spend more even money. National should either state that they don’t know where the money is coming from – or say which public services will be cut to pay for it. While their goal is laudable, it shouldn’t come at the cost of health, education, or essential public services like policing. Bishop should say how he is going to deliver the financial alchemy that allows him to spend more and yet still save”.

“Bishop also raised the spectre of changing the rental support that existing social housing tenants receive. National should clear up whether it is going to charge some of the most vulnerable people in the country more in rent. It would be the most regressive redistribution imaginable for the cost of new housing to come from existing social housing tenants, while National’s policy of tax cuts for the top 3% of earners remains. Or that children’s education funding will be cut so that private landlords can get their tax advantages back.

“Many of the problems in social housing stem from years of underinvestment in our state housing. It is welcome that after years of trying to sell them off, National now wants to build more. But for that to be more than another empty promise Bishop need to front up and show how these houses will be paid for without cuts to essential public services.”