Government forced to change failed HomeStart scheme

The Housing Minister was forced to make changes to HomeStart after the number of applications being declined or withdrawn trebled in the past year, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.

Nick Smith yesterday announced an increase in the scheme’s caps on house price and income which first homebuyers must not exceed to be eligible for the subsidy.

“The Minister had no choice but to make these changes. Information obtained by Labour show that since Nick Smith last changed the thresholds a year ago, the number of applications which didn’t go through surged from 705 to 1917 and the number declined has ballooned from 523 to 1259. Of those declined, the number which exceeded the income cap trebled and the number which exceeded the house price cap doubled.

“The Minister’s latest changes – which came into effect today – were designed to help the scheme keep up with skyrocketing Auckland house prices. But there are few houses for sale in the City of Sails for under $650,000.

“Nick Smith is going to have to keep raising the thresholds if National does nothing to build affordable houses in Auckland. It is now clear the Unitary Plan is not going to provide the affordable homes Aucklanders are so desperate for.

“Labour’s KiwiBuild policy will build 100,000 affordable homes over ten years – half of them in Auckland – with standalone houses under $600,000 and townhouses and apartments under $500,000,” Andrew Little says.