Govt may offer cash to state house tenants to move

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 30:  State housing is pictured in Panmure ahead of the New Zealand Budget release on April 30, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Government today announced it is handing over the ownership of about 2800 Tamaki state homes to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company and housing is once again expected to feature when New Zealand's  Minister of Finance Bill English presents the 2015 Budget on 21 May 2015.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Government has "lost the plot" over its plan to have Aucklanders in need of state housing receiving cash incentives to move across the country, a poverty action group says.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says the idea would be similar to the '3k to Christchurch' programme in which people were paid $3000 to move to the city.

While the amount of money those on the housing wait list is yet to be decided, Ms Bennett says it would be in the "ball park" of $3000.

A number of areas have been identified as prime candidates including Lower Hutt, Porirua, Whanganui, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, south Waikato and Gisborne.

"[They're] all places where we've got empty state houses and we know there are employment opportunities," she told RadioLIVE.

The plan would be voluntary and not necessarily just for those looking work Ms Bennett says the Government is also open to having those on long-term benefits including the invalids benefit to be eligible.

Ms Bennett says while around 2000 houses are in different stages of development in Auckland, it'll take some time before they're done.

"I don't think need is going to drop, rents aren't likely to go down in Auckland and I'm seeing enough examples where I'm concerned about the level of rent some people are paying and their ability to then feed their families and pay their power bills and live what I would term a good Kiwi life so there is a huge responsibility from the Government and we've are stepping into that," she says.

But the Auckland Action Against Poverty says the plan is "both incoherent and racist".

"I am stunned that after all her years as Social Development Minister, Ms Bennett now seems to have forgotten the relationship between the availability of paid work and housing," spokeswoman Sue Bradford says.

"With all the efforts of Work and Income focused on getting the same cohort of people into paid jobs she now wants them to move to regions where there are unlikely to be a plethora of work opportunities."

Ms Bradford claims the plan "looks very much like a deliberate strategy to push poor, brown people out of the country's economic powerhouse".

The proposal will be taken to Cabinet in the coming months.

Listen to what Paula Bennett had to say about it on RadioLIVE:

3 News / RadioLIVE