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Rent increases are accelerating under this Government, making a mockery of its claim to be prioritising New Zealand’s lower-income households, National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.

“Median rents have risen by $30 a week in the past 12 months, which is an increase of $1560 a year.

“Rents have gone up 2.5 times faster under the Labour-led Government than under National, adding to the strain on households forced to stretch each dollar further as the cost of living rises.

“Rent hikes are just the latest burden on Kiwis from a Government slow to learn about the unintended consequences of bad policy such as fees-free tertiary education that largely benefits high income households or petrol taxes that are regressive and disproportionately hurt the poor.

“A raft of poorly thought through policies are behind the recent spike in rents, including extending the bright-line test, ring fencing of losses, more burdensome regulations, the ban on foreign investment and the threat of a capital gains tax. All of these policies discourage private rentals and inevitably drive up rents.

“For the third of New Zealanders who don’t own their home these policies are doing more harm than good.

“Mum and Dad investors are being driven out of the property market by the ‘like it or lump it’ Housing Minister. But as the KiwiBuild mess shows, Phil Twyford has lost credibility to manage change in his portfolio, having inflated expectations and under-delivered.

“The Government hates to admit it, but it inherited an economy in good shape and National is pleased to see that momentum continue. The Finance Minister claims credit for any positive data but the reality is that the economy’s strength was built under nine years of National.

“And the rising costs are flowing through to more hardship grants issued by the Ministry of Social Development, which has jumped by 54,000 in the past 12 months.

“National believes a strong, growing economy delivers the best returns for New Zealanders. Growth doesn’t just mean profits. It means more jobs, higher wages and a better standard of living. Right now we have a Government that is just costing New Zealanders more.”

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