Welcome to Poverty watch, a weekly update on the National government’s lack of response to the urgent and growing issue of poverty in NZ. A lot of background issues and links are set out in Poverty Watch one two and three.
Only one item this week. While National sits on its hands, Labour set out policy at last weekend’s conference that would help to tackle a major poverty-related issue. Poor families live in poor housing, and that contributes to a range of health problems. Labour is proposing a “Healthy Homes Guarantee” to improve the living conditions of children. First the background:
Research by the Public Health Association estimates that child poverty is costing the country up to $8.8 billion a year. Between $3-$4.5 billion of that is health related costs. Some of these costs could be avoidable if more progress was made in upgrading our rental housing stock.
Māori, Pacific Islanders and lower socio-economic groups are less likely to own their own homes and more likely to suffer from the effects of poor quality housing.
Why housing matters:
A 2010 survey by BRANZ found that only 22 per cent of rental properties were in good condition and 44 per cent were in poor condition. The Productivity Commission has estimated that one third of New Zealanders in rental accommodation feel their homes are damp or cold. The Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty also warns that many rental properties have inadequate or non-existent insulation, and inefficient and ineffective heating. …
The medical research is emphatic – substandard housing is a major health issue in New Zealand. There is broad consensus that ensuring homes are warm and dry is the most urgent priority for New Zealand’s housing stock. Independent research has shown that up to five dollars’ worth of benefits arise from every dollar spent on insulating homes.
What Labour is proposing:
Labour will introduce a healthy homes guarantee so that every rental home in New Zealand is a healthy home that meets minimum standards of insulation and efficient heating.
All rental housing (state, social and private sector) will be required to meet minimum health and safety standards in regard to insulation and effective non-polluting heating. Landlords will need to make a declaration, or guarantee as part of any new tenancy agreement that their property complies with the standards.
Our growing rates of poverty-related “third world” diseases are a national disgrace. This policy would have a significant impact on health, and up to 5:1 return on dollars invested. We can’t afford not to do it!
Labour can’t make it happen until they get in to government. In the mean time National will continue to do nothing. Poverty Watch always ends with the following list, the National government’s response to rising poverty in NZ:
• National has not yet set any target for reducing poverty