“If you can’t fly, then run, If you can’t run, then walk, If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Kia ora

Government Housing Package

The ‘commentariat’ has been well exercised in the wake of the Government’s announcement on Tuesday 23 March, of a suite of housing policies intended to make the property market fairer for first home buyers. The most topical changes included the extension of the bright-line test from 5 to 10 years and the removal of property investors’ ability to claim back the interest costs of loans against rent received.

The package also introduces:

  • A $3.8 billion fund aimed at accelerating housing supply in the short to medium term.
  • The ability for more Kiwis to access First Home Grants and Loans with increased income caps and higher house price caps in targeted areas.
  • An exemption to the newly extended bright-line test to incentivise new builds.
  • Government support for Kāinga Ora to borrow $2 billion extra to scale up at pace land acquisition to boost housing supply.
  • An Apprenticeship Boost initiative extended to further support trades and trades training

Read the Government’s detailed housing package here.

Stuff reporter Susan Edmunds wrote a helpfully clear summary of the changes that the package introduces. Read here.

Housing reforms a rent hiker?

One voice raising concerns following the housing reforms announcement was Andrew Lavulavu, founder of South Auckland social enterprise Home Ownership Pathway. In a ‘Spinoff’ article, Lavulavu says that he expects to see increasing overcrowding and resulting health issues as families attempt to pool their resources. He says that the average rent in South Auckland is now around $600 a week, but suggests that next year it could be $750-850.   

Read about South Auckland rent hike concerns here.  

A leaked email from the Prime Minister’s chief press secretary suggests that the Government is concerned with the talk of its new reforms sparking rising rents.  The email asked staff to gather quotes from economists arguing against the assumption rents will go up. The quotes would be used for social media and in correspondence with voters.

Read more here.

Tenants and Landlords urged to study up on law changes

Tenancy Services is advising landlords and tenants to take time to get familiar with the recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020. The changes took effect last month (11 February 2021). The law change aims to improve the security and stability of tenants, to protect landlords’ interests and make the legislation more responsive to changing rental market trends. Information on the changes – the second of three phases of changes – can be found on the Tenancy Services website. Here’s a brief summary.

Upskilling opportunities for Residential Tenancy Law

Trainer Kathryn Burton is offering a couple of workshops on the Residential Tenancy Law.

The Changing Environment of Residential Tenancy Law:
This one-day workshop takes an in-depth look at law changes and the impact they will have for both tenants and housing providers. As well as putting the new legislation under the microscope, there will be an opportunity to brainstorm the steps needed so your organisation is ready for this new landscape. The workshop is designed for those already familiar with basic Tenancy Law who want to stay up to date with the latest changes.

In Person Opportunity: Auckland
When: Wednesday, 7 April 9am-3.30pm
Where: Manukau City Baptist Church, 9 Lambie Drive Manukau
Cost: $150 + GST per person (includes lunch)
Register here

Zoom on-line Session:
When: Wednesday, 5 May and Thursday, 6 May; 
9:00am – 12:00pm each day
Where: Delivered via Zoom
Cost: $120 + GST per person
Register here

Tenancy Law Fundamentals:
This 12-hour intensive workshop series covers everything from rent, records, damage, healthy homes, methamphetamine, and bonds right through to navigating the Tenancy Tribunal process. The four three-hour sessions are being offered via Zoom across two weeks.
Zoom Date: Tuesday 13,  Wednesday 14, Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 April
Zoom Time: 9:00am – 12:00pm each day
Zoom Cost: $250 +GST per person
Register here

Kathryn is also seeking expressions of interest in attending a two-day in-person session in Auckland.
Auckland Date: Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 April
Auckland Time: 9:00am – 3.30pm each day
Auckland Cost: $350 + GST per person
Bookings will open at a later date.
To register interest, please email kathrynburton@xtra.co.nz

Sector pushes back on Oranga Tamariki Demerit Points Bill

The Social Services and Community Select Committee has been hearing submissions on the Oranga Tamariki (Youth Justice Demerit Points) Amendment Bill. The stated aim of the Bill is to “simplify the administrative processes” and “introduce structured interventions intended to improve behaviours and increase accountability and transparency within the youth justice system.”

In its submission, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner contended that the Bill proposes changes that would undermine the principles and practice of the youth justice system. The Office argues that the “one-size-fits-all approach that the Bill proposes will criminalise more care-experienced, Māori and disabled young people”, and “that the changes would increase the number of young people in adult courts and in the ‘pipeline to prison’”

NZCCSS member organisation Lifewise Trust (Youth Housing Service) presented its concerns that “the Bill fails to understand or acknowledge the driving factors behind youth offending”.  The Trust maintains that the use of demerit points “will more likely further stigmatize our rangatahi causing them to be further trapped within the system, rather than supporting rangatahi to exit the Justice system.”

Read the Bill here.

Read the Office for the Children’s Commissioner submission here.

Read the Lifewise Trust submission here.

Wellbeing of Families in Aotearoa New Zealand

Health and wellness provider Southern Cross recently released its Healthy Futures Report 2020. The report endeavours to capture a picture of the physical and emotional pressures on New Zealand parents as they navigate their children’s health and happiness and work out how to create a safe and positive environment for their family. The 3,000-person survey, conducted by Colmar Brunton, identified that the biggest concern for all New Zealanders is their ability to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

According to the survey, 86% of New Zealanders are worried about the cost of living; 57% are concerned about not having enough money to support themselves or their family. And 79% say they are worried about not having access to good, affordable healthcare.

Violence in society, mental health and suicide rates were also high in concern rankings. Read more here.

The Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No2) is now, law having gained Royal assent.  The amended law makes clear that the unplanned end of a pregnancy by miscarriage or still-birth constitutes grounds for bereavement leave for the mother and her partner or spouse, and that the duration of the bereavement leave should be up to 3 days.

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_89457/holidays-bereavement-leave-for-miscarriage-amendment

Summit for Social Sector Leaders

Te Ao Mārama Te Ao Rangatira, Te Papa Wellington – 24 May 2021

Social Services Providers Aotearoa (SSPA) invite senior managers and leaders of social service organisations to save the date for a new policy direction summit.  The summit aims to keep sector leaders up to date with policy directions affecting their organisations and the people they work with. Te Ao Mārama Te Ao Rangatira. Registrations open soon. Keep a watch on the SSPA website here.