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22-05-2015

Social housing reform bill passed into law

Law changes to help grow an innovative social housing sector and house more vulnerable New Zealanders passed into law today.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says the Social Housing Reform (Flexible Purchasing and Remedial Matters) Bill is a crucial part of the Government’s reform programme to put tenants first and increase the supply of housing that suits their needs.

“This Bill means the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) can be flexible in the way it negotiates contracts for social housing provision, so that it can tailor agreements to encourage innovative new approaches to supporting our most vulnerable.

“Providers are telling us they want to invest in homes for their communities, but the existing contracting arrangements are too limited in scope to allow them to grow.

“The Social Housing Reform Bill lets MSD explore other arrangements that give providers a guaranteed income stream by appropriately pricing for long term, fixed price tenancies,” Mrs Bennett says.

Other minor changes in the legislation include:

  • Ensuring payments for residential social housing provision under these agreements are GST exempt, consistent with the current treatment of for residential rental payments.
  • Clarifying Housing New Zealand is no longer required to provide policy advice to Ministers, a role now undertaken by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
  • Guaranteeing KiwiSaver members can access their savings to assist with the purchase of a first home by clarifying any prior period of membership in a complying superannuation fund should count towards the three year eligibility for the first home withdrawal scheme.

“We are making fundamental changes to the way we provide social housing because the status quo isn’t good enough. The Government is choosing to focus on tenants and their needs, and ensuring there is more housing of the right size in the right place to meet demand,” says Mrs Bennett.

“I’d like to thank the Government’s support partners, the ACT Party, the Māori Party and the United Future Party for their support of this legislation.”

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