Chris Bishop lashes back at Kieran McAnulty's social housing claims, says Labour 'left us a fiscal cliff'

  • 02/04/2024

The Labour Party is accusing the Government of refusing to commit to funding for desperately needed social housing. 

But the Housing Minister has lashed back at those claims, accusing the former Labour Government of leaving the Coalition with a "fiscal cliff". 

Labour housing spokesperson Kieran McAnulty ripped into the current Government on Tuesday, saying the Coalition made "a lot of promises when it comes to housing, but at the end of the day they're making things worse". 

"Community housing providers are pausing developments on new public housing places because the Government won't commit to funding for Income Related Rent Subsidy past June 2025. The Salvation Army, for example, has had 70 desperately needed homes kiboshed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development." 

McAnulty also said the "uncertainty" was "putting the entire social housing build programme at risk". 

"Kāinga Ora have cancelled projects, community housing providers are pulling back and building consents are falling rapidly. This impacts families in desperate need of housing as well as local tradies and apprentices who are losing work as a result," McAnulty said in a statement. 

"Despite repeated questions, in question time, written questions and at the [Kāinga Ora] annual review in Select Committee the Government still won't make any commitment to fund the subsidy, which would increase the number of public housing places and go great lengths to lower the waiting list of families who are waiting to be placed in a home," he added. 

Kieran McAnulty.
Kieran McAnulty. Photo credit: Newshub.

But Chris Bishop has challenged McAnulty on his comments. 

"It's a bit rich for Labour to complain about this. They left us a fiscal cliff in which funding for new social housing stops after June 2025 as part of their attempt to cook the books and show a fake surplus," the Housing Minister said. 

"We back the community housing sector and we are waiting on the independent review into Kāinga Ora - Homes & Communities. We will be sorting [out] the mess that Labour left social housing in," Bishop added. 

Kāinga Ora had paused major projects involving 1500 homes and cancelled about another 500, Newsroom reported last week. It comes as former Prime Minister Sir Bill English is due to report back to the Government with an independent report into the agency's financial situation. 

McAnulty said the lack of certainty being provided by the Coalition was "stalling the momentum Labour had built in social housing and the construction sector". 

"There's a simple fix here - do what Labour were going to do and confirm the funding, give community housing providers the certainty they need, give families in need hope that they're finally get a home and keep tradies in work." 

But Bishop said the Government "won't be taking advice from Labour on housing". 

"The [social housing] waitlist went up by 20,000 people under Labour and they produced only 4000 of their promised 100,000 Kiwibuild houses."