National tinkers as soaring prices lock out first homebuyers

National’s latest changes to its HomeStart scheme is just more tinkering from a Government that has lost its grip on the housing crisis, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.

“Just a year after he was forced to adjust the house price and income caps for the first homebuyers scheme, Housing Minister Nick Smith today announced he has had to raise the thresholds again.

“That’s because Auckland’s skyrocketing house prices meant only 9 per cent of the subsidy was going to Aucklanders because it is so hard to find a house there for under $600,000.

“It is good news for many would-be first homebuyers outside our biggest city that the Housing Minister is raising the thresholds but for those in Auckland, the Government’s failure to address the housing crisis means houses are simply not being built for $650,000.

“The HomeStart scheme has been such a failure that even in a time of desperate housing need, $10 million in subsidies were not taken up last year.

“It is a sign of how incoherent National’s housing policy is that Nick Smith is increasing subsidies for low-deposit lending while the Prime Minister is pleading with the Reserve Bank to tighten restrictions on low-deposit lending.

“The Government needs to build affordable homes and crack down on speculators – the two things that would actually make a difference in Auckland.

“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.