Saturday, 27 November 2021
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Renewed debate over use of electronic shock collars for training dogs

The Government has been told financial packages for first time buyers have problems and they could be pushing up house prices.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford is weighing up his options, including whether the Government could invest alongside homeowners, taking a share in the property. 

First home grants were brought in to ease stress of a housing crisis but are creating their own headache.

Mr Twyford said the scheme has been “pretty hopeless” for the last five years.

A briefing obtained by 1 NEWS under the Official Information Act warns the minister that “there are a number of issues” with the subsidy schemes, that “the most substantial relate to Homestart grants” and that “by supporting demand they may have pushed up house prices, transferring some of the benefit of the grant to home sellers.”

ACT Party leader David Seymour said the Homestart grant scheme “was always going to go wrong, this was entirely predictable”. 

Worth up to $10,000 each, officials say Homestart grants make little difference in unaffordable areas, Auckland receiving just nine per cent of grants in the year to June 2017.

The cap on house prices is one of the reasons, being set at $600,000 in a million dollar market.

And it’s not moving anytime soon.

“So the price cap in Auckland is exactly the same as the Kiwibuild price cap. And the Government’s response to this problem is to build more affordable Kiwibuild homes,” Mr Twyford said.

Mr Seymour said he doesn’t accept Mr Twyford “claiming that new homes will be below the cap”.

“How is it possible that builders will be able to build cheaper homes simply because they’re working for the Government?”

Despite a housing crisis, there’s lots of money sitting idle. An $86 million fund is set aside for Homestart grants. But they can’t get rid of it, with $11 million still waiting to be paid out.

New home ownership models are on the table though, and could see the Government chipping in with new homeowners to own a portion of the property.

“Shared equity will be one of the ways that Kiwibuild homes will be available to a much bigger group of New Zealanders than would otherwise be the case,” Mr Twyford said.

The minister is hinting at an announcement in the coming months.

More than two dozen brand new televisions and bathroom fittings, still in their packaging, have been stolen from a construction area of a Wellington primary school.

Police are appealing for information about the burglary at Newtown Primary School on Saturday or Sunday last weekend.

Twelve Panasonic televisions, 12 Apple TV devices and a number of bathroom fittings – all brand new and in their packaging – were stolen from an area of the school currently under construction.

Police want to hear from anyone who may have information regarding the burglary or if they have been offered any of the items for sale.

Information can be provided to Wellington Central Police by calling 04 381 2000, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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