The Coalition Government should be flexible on Parental Leave and accept changes to their Paid Parental Leave Bill that would improve options for families, National Party Workplace Relations Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“There are many instances where families would prefer both parents to be able to take leave at the same time, because of their particular circumstances,” Ms Adams says. “For example, if they have had twins, a caesarean, or a sick child.
“National’s proposed change recognises the role of both parents, and allows families to have the flexibility that suits their circumstances. It is good for parents, good for their baby and will help support women in the workforce.
“We’re surprised that Labour are not taking this idea up and we haven’t heard a sensible reason why they won’t. They should stop being dogmatic, and insisting that their legislation can’t be improved.
“Labour’s assumption that they know how every family would want to use its parental leave is frankly a bit nanny state. Why wouldn’t you simply give people the option to choose?”
Ms Adams says National will also promote a second change to Labour’s Bill that will increase the number of “keeping in touch hours” for parents to stay in touch with their workplace, commensurate with the extension to Paid Parental Leave.
“This is a straightforward tidy-up which frankly should have been done by the Government through a Cabinet Committee before they put the Bill in the House.”
Ms Adams says the Bill could have been improved significantly by having a proper process and time at Select Committee to discuss these and other ideas, and take submissions from the public.
“The strange thing is that the Bill does not take effect until 1 July next year, and that’s plenty of time to go to a Select Committee,” Ms Adams says.
Mrs Adams says National’s proposed change will ensure parents can spend more time at home supporting each other and bonding with their babies in those important and stressful early months, and will help them stay healthier.
Christchurch’s state-of-the-art Justice and Emergency Services Precinct was officially opened by Prime Minister Bill English this morning.
Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams says today’s opening marks the latest and most significant milestone in the $300 million Precinct’s development.
“This is a special day for Cantabrians. The Precinct will provide a welcome boost to the vibrancy and economy of Christchurch city, with an estimated 2000 people either working in or visiting the facility daily,” she says.
“The Precinct is the largest multi-agency government co-location project in New Zealand’s history and brings all regional justice and emergency services together in one purpose-built facility.
“It has been built to withstand seismic events and contains special resiliency features to enable the Emergency Operations Centre and 111 Call Centre to continue operating in a major emergency, including a back-up power generator, 100,000 litres of portable water and 100,000 litres of sewerage storage,” says Ms Adams.
The official opening of the Precinct will be followed by a public open day at the weekend to give Cantabrians the opportunity to have a behind-the-scenes look at spaces that would otherwise be restricted once operations begin.
Following the public open day, agencies will begin moving in and it is expected that the first public facing operations will begin in mid-October.
“I know that Cantabrians have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the Precinct, which will breathe new life into a city that continues to rise from the rubble of the earthquakes,” says Ms Adams.
National will make it easier for first home buyers to get a deposit by doubling the financial support available when buying an existing house, and increasing it for new builds, Ms Amy Adams and Dr Nick Smith say.
“National believes every New Zealander should be able to buy their own house if they want to – so we are building on our existing suite of measures to support first home buyers,” Housing New Zealand spokesperson Amy Adams says.
The changes mean a couple will be eligible for an extra $10,000 of Government HomeStart Grants, taking the grants to $20,000 for an existing home or $30,000 for a new build.
The additional grants mean there is funding to help a further 80,000 people into their first home over the next four years, on top of the 31,000 people the scheme has already helped.
Building and Construction spokesperson Dr Nick Smith says HomeStart Grants complement other Government measures to support first home buyers, including:
- Welcome Home Loans, which allow first home buyers to access Government-backed mortgages with a 10 per cent deposit
- KiwiSaver FirstHome Withdrawals, which allow New Zealanders to access all of their KiwiSaver funds to put towards a deposit.
“Take a couple on the average wage in Auckland who have been in KiwiSaver for five years and are looking to buy their first home,” Dr Smith says.
“Between the $20,000 HomeStart Grant and their KiwiSaver withdrawal, they will have around $60,000 for a deposit for an existing home.
“Add in a Government-backed Welcome Home Loan, which means they only need a 10 per cent deposit, and they have enough for a house worth up to $600,000 – the Auckland HomeStart cap for existing homes - without needing other savings.
“That’s significant support for those New Zealanders, particularly given 18 per cent of home sales in Auckland in the past year were below $600,000.
“If that couple lived in Palmerston North, they would have enough for a 20 per cent deposit on a $300,000 house, without the need for a Welcome Home Loan.”
Ms Adams says National will also combine HomeStart Grants and Welcome Home Loans into one HomeStart product, so first home buyers can get all the support available to them from one place.
“We will simplify the application process for Welcome Home Loans to allow accredited banks to approve these 10 per cent deposit, Government-backed loans on the spot – rather than going through an often time-consuming process with Housing New Zealand,” Ms Adams says.
Dr Smith says National’s policies are helping 200,000 new houses be built over the next six years – the equivalent of four extra Dunedins.
“We are increasing our support for first home buyers, and making it easier to access, to further help young New Zealanders achieve their dream of owning their first home.”
The changes will come into force on 1 January 2018. They are expected to cost $74 million per year, to be met from the 2018 Budget allowance. Costs in 2017/18 will be met from the between budget contingency.
From early next year, the Methodist Mission Southern will be delivering an innovative youth transitional housing programme to help around 24 young people living in Dunedin each year, Social Housing Minister Amy Adams announced today.
“Methodist Mission Southern’s new initiative will provide stable transitional housing for at-risk youth, and a platform for them to engage in education and training,” says Minister Adams.
The programme delivered by support service provider Methodist Mission Southern will provide supervised accommodation for six young people at a time in a 7-bedroom home. In addition, they will receive support into education or training, then into long-term housing.
The Government will provide around $666,000 over the next two years to fund accommodation and service delivery costs for this programme.
“For some young people engaged in education during the day, the positive progress they are making is at risk if they are in unstable housing. These young people need stable housing combined with intensive support in order to change their lives for the better,” says Ms Adams.
“This programme takes a fresh approach to meeting the needs of young people who are at risk of homelessness or living in insecure housing, and will help them to make the most of their opportunities and stay on track with their education and employment goals.”
Methodist Mission Southern identified a gap for youth transitional housing services in Dunedin, after observing the education and training challenges faced by youth aged 16-19 years old who were living in an insecure housing situation, such as sleeping rough or in cars, or couch surfing.
Young people on the programme will live in the shared home for an average of 12 weeks. While they are there they will receive assistance to develop life skills and support with education or employment opportunities. It is expected that the young people staying in the home will transition into secure housing. This could include returning to family, accessing housing provided by other social housing providers or private rentals.
Methodist Mission Southern work throughout Otago and Southland, and have delivered specialist educational and social support services to high-needs youth learners for over 20 years.
There are currently 20 transitional housing places in Dunedin, which are managed by two providers, The Salvation Army and Women’s Refuge.
A new development on Auckland’s Great North Road will be solely used for those who need social housing assistance, Social Housing Minister Amy Adams announced today.
“All of the 120 new homes to be built on under-utilised Crown land and adjoining Housing New Zealand land in Great North Road, Waterview, will be social housing. This makes it one of the biggest social housing developments in Auckland,” Ms Adams says.
Housing New Zealand and development partners Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki and Housing for Social Benefits Ltd, a subsidiary of Waipareira Trust, will develop the combined 1.2 hectare site into a mix of one- two- and three-bedroom apartments and townhouses, with the first homes becoming available in late 2018. The entire project, called Waterview Court, will be completed by June 2020.
“These homes are part of the 34,000 new houses the Government is building in Auckland over the next ten years, under the Crown Building Project,” Ms Adams says.
“Half of the land on the Great North Road site was originally held by New Zealand Transport Agency for roading, and the other was an old and dated 20-unit HNZ complex. These two parcels of land will translate into a six-fold increase in social housing at this location, integrated with the local community and delivered to the latest urban design and building specifications.
“This housing development is made possible because of the Crown Land Programme, under which we’re always actively reviewing land held by Crown agencies for public facilities, and whether the land can be better used for housing.
“I look forward to seeing progress at Great North Road and other sites as we transform vacant and under-utilised Crown land into housing, through this smart and innovative programme,” Ms Adams says.
The Government will provide $27 million to help Auckland City Mission build a new 80-unit complex in the heart of Auckland to house some of the city’s most vulnerable people, Social Housing Minister Amy Adams has announced.
“We want all New Zealanders to have somewhere warm and safe to stay and we are determined to do all we can to provide those sleeping rough with the support they need to lead better lives,” Ms Adams says.
“Auckland City Mission have unveiled a $75 million project, which will help those in need and provide permanent accommodation for rough sleepers and vulnerable Aucklanders.
“It will be a base from where essential community and social services can be delivered, ensuring wraparound support for people with complex needs so we can help address the causes of their homelessness,” Ms Adams says.
Auckland City Mission will redevelop its central Auckland premises into 80 new studio and one-bedroom units. The first three floors will house the Mission’s services and the rest of the building will contain housing.
“The Government will provide $27 million in funding towards the project, with the Auckland City Mission and wider Auckland community contributing the remainder of the cost,” Ms Adams says.
“The Government will then provide ongoing operational funding through the Income-Related Rent Subsidy, taking the total Government funding to around $78 million over 25 years.”
The new complex will start next year and is expected to be completed mid-2020.
“This project is a result of the Request for Proposal issued in July last year. Chris Farrelly and his team at the Auckland City Mission do extraordinary work supporting some Auckland’s most vulnerable and we are very pleased to support them as they extend their reach to even more people in need,” Ms Adams says.
The new complex comes on the back of 150 chronic rough sleeping Aucklanders already having been helped off the streets in the first months of the $4.7 million Auckland Housing First Initiative - a collaboration between the Government and Auckland Council which will help 472 chronically homeless Aucklanders in two years. The Government has also announced today an expansion of Housing First to help another 500 rough sleepers in centres like Tauranga, Christchurch and Wellington and an expansion of the Auckland programme.
The successful Housing First programme is being expanded into more regions across New Zealand to help end chronic homelessness, Social Housing Minister Amy Adams has announced.
“We don’t want anyone living on the street and the expansion of Housing First will provide help for up to 500 more high need individuals into permanent housing and address the root causes of their homelessness through the provision of targeted, one-on-one wraparound services,” Ms Adams says.
“Housing First is delivering results in Auckland and Hamilton. We want more people across New Zealand who are sleeping rough to be supported into stable housing, and provided with the broader help they need to improve their lives.”
The additional Housing First places are being allocated as follows:Auckland – 100 places on top of the 472 already provided for Christchurch – up to 100 places Tauranga – up to 100 places Wellington (including Lower Hutt) – up to 150 places.
“These locations have been identified based on the estimates of demand in those locations and the likelihood of suitable providers being available.”
Funding of $500,000 over two years will also be provided for Hamilton’s People Project so they can continue their successful Housing First work in the city.
The Government invested $16.5 million in Budget 2017 to expand Housing First into areas of high need across the country, and today’s announcement sets where those places will be allocated.
“Many of our chronically homeless are grappling with complex problems, such as mental health issues or addiction to drugs or alcohol,” Ms Adams says.
“Housing First quickly moves rough sleepers into appropriate housing and then immediately provides tailored wrap-around services to address the issues that led to their homelessness.”
International results consistently confirm that 80 per cent of people who receive Housing First services retain their housing and do not return to homelessness.
In Auckland, 150 homeless people have already been helped off the streets during the first months of the $4.7 million Auckland Housing First Initiative - a collaboration between the Government and Auckland Council.
New training and education programmes for prosecutors, court staff and the judiciary to better understand the impacts of sexual violence on victims will help improve victims’ experiences of the court process, says Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams.
“We know that sexual violence has the lowest reporting rate of all offences, caused in part by victims’ concerns about the court process,” Ms Adams says.
“Victims’ trauma can be made worse if those involved in the court process are unfamiliar with the effects of sexual offending on victims, including anxiety, fear and self-blame.
“That’s why we’re investing $1.24 million in a package of initiatives to build better understanding which will help make victims’ experiences of the justice system less traumatic and more accessible.”
The funding, which comes from the Justice Sector Fund, will enable the Institute of Judicial Studies to provide judicial education and will deliver new Solicitor-General’s guidelines for prosecuting sexual violence cases.
“In addition, it will develop new online guidance and information with input from specialists so that victims and their supporters can easily access information explaining what help is available, how sexual violence offences are investigated and what to expect in the court process,” Ms Adams says.
“These initiatives form a component of the Government’s wider investment in sexual violence prevention and supporting victims. They will build on existing good practice such as the Sexual Violence Court pilot and the Victims Code, as well as the work being done by the Chief Victims’ Advisor and the National Sexual Violence Survivor Advocate.”
The initiatives implement operational changes recommended in the Law Commission report on the justice response to victims of sexual violence. The Government is continuing to consider other recommendations that require legislative change.
Over 190 local Palmerston North families will be helped into a warm, dry place to stay through the Government’s social housing plans for the city.
“We’re building 70 new social houses, which is on top of the 1436 social houses we have in Palmerston North right now. Our plans for 30 short-term transitional housing places will benefit 120 local families every year,” Social Housing Minister Amy Adams says.
“We’ve made a commitment to help New Zealanders with housing when times are tough, and our plans for Palmerston North will help families in need into a warm, dry place to stay.
“We’re on track to have all 30 short-term transitional housing places available by the end of the year, and expect to see the 70 new social houses coming on board over the next three years.
“Housing New Zealand are currently reviewing their stock and vacant land across New Zealand. It’s my expectation that where land is redeveloped, at least 20 per cent is affordable,” Ms Adams says.
“We’ve already secured 29 of the transitional housing places in Palmerston North, meaning that we’re already in a position to help 116 local families this year, with more places scheduled to open in the coming weeks and months,” says Associate Social Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro.
“This is about more than just housing. The investment of $354 million the Government made last year into transitional housing recognises that many of our struggling families are facing some tough challenges. That’s why we’ve partnered with some fantastic community housing providers to make sure they’re getting further help to get back on their feet – from budgeting advice to cooking lessons or parenting support.
“Providers like The Salvation Army and Women's Refuge in Palmerston North go above and beyond to help lift our vulnerable people into a position where they can move on to and sustain long-term housing,” says Mr Ngaro.
Each week, the Government spends over $982,000 to supporting around 20,000 households in the wider Manawatu-Wanganui region with their housing costs.
Across the wider Manawatu-Wanganui region, the Government has plans to bring on 165 additional social houses and 66 short-term transitional housing places – to a total of 2690 social houses across the region. This is in addition to the Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants that are also available to local families in need of somewhere urgent to stay.
About our plan for social housing:
This year, the Government will spend $2.3 billion supporting 310,000 households with their accommodation. Additionally, those seeking immediate shelter can access a Special Needs Grant for accommodation. We have invested $354 million to help 8600 families every year with a warm, safe place to stay. We are also growing the number of social houses available, from 66,000 today to 72,000 by 2020.
What is the difference between social and transitional housing?
Both social and transitional housing may be run by community housing providers.
Transitional housing differs from social housing in that tenants generally only stay for 12 weeks in the property while they are helped to find long-term housing. While there they also receive additional support tailored to their needs. This could include things like budgeting advice, cooking lessons or parenting support. People receive a further 12 weeks of support once they’ve moved into their new property to help them settle in.
What is a ‘housing’ place?
A place may be a freestanding house or a unit in a wider complex. With regard to transitional housing places it refers also to availability over a year. For example a freestanding house used for transitional housing may be classed as four places because four families can be housed there every year.
The Government is extending the successful Crown Land Programme to Queenstown, Social Housing Minister Amy Adams announced today.
“As it grows, Queenstown is facing challenges with housing supply. The average house price is the highest in the country at over a million dollars. While demand is high, businesses are struggling to attract and retain staff, which is affecting the local economy,” says Ms Adams.
“Increasing the land available for housing will help rebalance the market, which is why the Government is focused on bringing more surplus Crown land into the market.
“We want to explore vacant or underutilised Crown land within walking distance to Queenstown’s town centre that can be developed into social, affordable and market housing.”
“The Government is exploring vacant Crown sites around Queenstown. MBIE officials are working closely with the Ministry of Education in respect of the potential acquisition of the old Wakatipu High School site.”
The Crown Land Programme casts an eye over land that had been previously set aside for future public facilities, such as roads or schools, to see if it can be used for housing. It helps increase housing supply, accelerates construction and helps build social and affordable housing.
“Through this programme, 400 new houses have been built in Christchurch and another 2700 are being built in Auckland on Crown land. In Budget 2017, we invested an additional $100 million to extend the programme to areas outside of Auckland,” says Ms Adams.
“Under the programme as a whole, the Government has committed at least 20 per cent of the homes being available for social housing and a further 20 per cent priced as affordable – defined as no more than the KiwiSaver HomeStart cap – although the exact configuration will vary from site to site,” Ms Adams says.
A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed today between the Crown and Ngāi Tahu Property to explore options to develop vacant or under-utilised parcels of Crown land in Queenstown for housing developments.
“Both the Government and Ngāi Tahu Property have strong interests in creating quality housing to build stronger communities and ensuring new developments reflect local needs,” says Ms Adams.
“Before any Crown land in Queenstown can be sold for housing, it is subject to a right of first refusal in favour of Ngāi Tahu under the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998. It therefore makes sense for us to partner with them early in the process.”