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Poverty Watch 13

Written By: - Date published: 8:28 am, November 24th, 2012 - 23 comments
Categories: labour, national, poverty - Tags:

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
• ?


23 comments on “Poverty Watch 13”

  1. Dr Terry 1

    All good stuff, but we have to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves as to how many better off New Zealanders are genuinely concerned for the betterment of Maori, Pacific Islanders and lower socio-economic groups?

  2. PlanetOrphan 2

    Bloody Gnats M8! ,
    Couldn’t organise a [insert any human persuit] in a [insert appropriate location] M8!.

  3. BevanJS 3

    forcing landlords to improve their rental properties will surely drive up rents ………

    • fender 3.1

      Allowing landlords to continue letting substandard, unhealthy dumps at over the top prices should lead to them facing prosecution. To recieve top dollar for renting a property you should have to obtain a certificate proving the property is fit for habitation. Those who refuse to comply should not be able to let the property out. Raising the rent for making improvements that meet minimum requirements should not be allowed and should also lead to prosecution. Simple really, strict rules are all that is needed. Why should someone who is fortunate enough to own housing stock be allowed to jeopardise the health of others?

      • BevanJS 3.1.1

        … and this “fair” and ‘simple’ system would be enforced how and by who?

        • fender

          Can’t be too hard to implement a system of inspection for rental properties. An annual fee paid by landlords could fund such a system for the privilege of being allowed to let out a property.

          I’m not sure, but I don’t think a car rental business would be allowed to hire out cars that don’t have a WOF. Just looked at NZTA website and yes a car must be safe before it can be hired out.

          • BevanJS

            and I’m sure rental car companies don’t operate in fear of prosecution for “Raising the rent for making improvements that meet minimum requirements”.

            How about the gummint doesn’t tax us to fail at micro-managing housing stock and we can all take the extra money still in our pockets to do what we need to do for our families.

            • fender

              I don’t think a car rental company would survive too long if they raised their fees every time they replaced bald tires, but if they rent out substandard vehicles they could certainly be experiencing some fear of a penalty.

              If the Govt. were more concerned about families having extra money in their pockets they could outlaw price gouging by those greedy landlords who don’t even seem to care if people get ill from being in their unhealthy rental properties.

    • mike e 3.2

      Bj they will sell into the marlet rather than do them up reducing prices to new home owmers!

    • mike e 3.3

      Their is an under supply of housing that’s why landlords can get away with gouging and substandard dwellings .
      This is also the reason why we have a house price bubble that is also the reason why the big four banks are gouging our economy ,forcing our dollar up and seriously damaging our productive sector!
      Nationals lack of action is creating poverty.

  4. AsleepWhileWalking 4

    Not to mention the constant moving by families caught between rapidly rising rental properties and even more unaffordable housing to purchase.

    Moving means lack of stability which is especially important in children’s lives, no investment in their community, and disturbingly attendance at a frightening number of schools adding to the damage to our kids. Unacceptable.

    We need to encourage long term rental agreements, improving quality of rentals, and stop rewarding speculation on real estate asap.

  5. Hobnob 5

    Labour created this so called poverty. Funded by unions. Oh well

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      To be more accurate, the neoliberals in both National and Labour created this poverty – while greatly enriching the top 5% of society.

      • Hobnob 5.1.1

        It I was successful and made my wealth in Eco business environment and become part of the 5% am I bad as you suggest?

        • KJT

          So long as you are prepared to keep the ladder there for the ones after you.

          Be a Warren Buffet, Hallenstein (For an NZ example) or Bill Gates. Not a Koch, Bennett or a Key.

          I don’t believe all the rich are “rich pricks”.

          • Hobnob

            I am Eco business don’t do ladders – made of steel. If my lowest guy gets 30.00 an hour for working in the warehouse..why does he need a union rep? He gets all the other basics plus 5 weeks holiday and 6% kiwisaver.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      In general it’s capitalism and the privatisation of the commons that causes poverty. It’s expanded under neo-liberalism which has been followed by both sides since the 1980s.

      • Colonial Viper 5.2.1

        Agreed that is the more general case. Who is going to move core assets and wealth back into the commons…

  6. locus 6

    NZ housing is pitifully inadequate in terms of insulation. Changes in legislation and significant long term commitment by NZ governments to fund and enforce higher standards are the only way to bring NZ up to first world standards. The benefits will far outweigh the costs

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      And will create jobs, lots of jobs. Ensure the insulation is NZ sourced and start up an R&D effort around it too.

      • locus 6.1.1

        so many success stories around the world of initiatives to restore renovate and build to exacting and inspiring standards while in NZ we rely on half-hearted measures and charity funding. Huge opportunity as you’ve pointed out.

  7. Michael 7

    This is a good policy (and long overdue) but, as always with Labour, the devil will be in the details. A good example is the much-trumpeted “income-related rents” for state housing tenants. Very few tenants actually qualified for income-related rents, due to absurdly low thresholds, while those who did only had their rents dropped if they were able to complete a complex bureaucratic obstacle course not just once, when they applied for income-related rent, but every 6-12 months thereafter, when they were subject to rent reviews. The dishonest nature of Labour’s state tenancy policy was revealed in two court cases involving the same tenant, just before Labour got kicked out of office in 2008. The judges, in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, after reading mountains of documents, had no difficulty concluding that Labour’s underlying policy was one of market rents for state house tenants. I believe Labour knew this all along but calculated that it could bullshit HNZ tenants into thinking they could get cheaper rents and, thus, keep voting for it. Will anything really change in the remote chance of Labour taking office again?

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