How will the Ministry of Social Development's social housing purchasing strategy lead to better outcomes for tenants?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 

Stuart Smith to the Minister for Social Housing : How will the Ministry of Social Development’s social housing purchasing strategy lead to better outcomes for tenants?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Housing): An important part of the Government’s social housing reforms is the Ministry of Social Development’s new role as the purchaser of social housing places. The Ministry of Social Development is already conducting a social housing purchasing trial in both west and south Auckland that provides community housing providers and Housing New Zealand with information about who needs a house and where so they can offer people houses and services that meet their needs. This will lead to more choice for tenants. It means that it is all about them and their needs, not necessarily about the Housing New Zealand home that may be in the wrong place and the wrong size.

Stuart Smith : What kinds of tenancies will the Ministry of Social Development be able to purchase for people?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : The whole idea of the purchasing strategy is that it will allow the Ministry of Social Development to purchase a variety of tenancies that will suit the unique needs of the individual. It could, for example, purchase a short-term place for a man coming out of prison with a community provider that specialises in drug and alcohol issues to help him reintegrate and then to move to independence. For a single mum leaving a violent relationship, it might be that it secures a 10-year tenancy that means she is getting a wrap-around service over a long period of time—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Speak to John Key about it. Talk to John Key, not me.

Hon PAULA BENNETT :—and that member, if he ever needs it, should knock on the door and we might look for him, as well.

Phil Twyford : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister has referred to an official document in her answer. Can I ask that the document be tabled?

Mr SPEAKER : I just need to clarify: was the Minister using an official document?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : No, I do not think I did.

Mr SPEAKER : She was not.

Phil Twyford : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Both the primary question and the Minister’s answer referred to the Ministry of Social Development’s social housing purchasing strategy. I would ask that that document be tabled—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member needs to understand that if the Minister was quoting as she gave an answer from an official document, the member can ask for that to be tabled. [Interruption] Order! On this particular occasion, the Minister may well have referred to a development within her ministry, but she was not using it in the House. She does not have to table it.

Stuart Smith : How will the strategy help grow the community housing sector?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : In order for tenants to get better services, the community sector will need to grow. The sector currently provides about 6 percent of social houses. As we know, Labour supports this policy, as we have heard from its members in the past. They are committed to the community housing sector having access to income-related rent subsidies, to capital grants, and to stock transfer. We heard Phil Twyford himself say that we need, particularly in our bigger centres, large-scale urban developments backed by private sector developments and community housing organisations. This is all about that strategy of providing more for tenants and focusing on their needs.