Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

National v Labour: how similar policies differ

In particular, the two parties have contrasting approaches to addressing the demand for housing. Photo / Sarah Ivey
In particular, the two parties have contrasting approaches to addressing the demand for housing. Photo / Sarah Ivey

National and Labour's core goals for housing are very similar.

They have both pledged to build more affordable homes, expand the social housing stock and shelter more homeless people.

But the scale, delivery and funding of their policies differ.

In particular, the two parties have contrasting approaches to addressing the demand for housing.

National does not favour demand-side measures, though it has introduced a requirement for tax to be paid on capital gains made on houses sold within two years. It has also raised the possibility of a land tax on foreign, non-resident buyers.

Labour would go after speculators by extending the capital gains "bright line test" to five years, banning non-resident buyers from the housing market and possibly taking away tax incentives for property investors.

Labour's policy of building 10,000 affordable homes a year is more ambitious than National's affordable housing package.

Half of the homes in Labour's large-scale housing developments will be priced in the "affordable" range ($600,000 in Auckland or $500,000 elsewhere).

That contrasts with National's main vehicle for housing supply, Special Housing Areas, which have no fixed requirements for affordable housing. Other Government-run initiatives require up to 10 per cent of houses to be affordable, though they are smaller in scale. National is instead focused on using its fast-tracked housing areas to ramp up overall housing supply.

The parties have a fundamentally different approach to state housing.

National wants to reduce the role of Government. It has extended rent subsidies to community housing providers and wants to offload thousands of state houses to charities, churches and iwi.

Labour, on the other hand, would abolish the state house "sell-off" and reassert the role of Government, building 1000 state houses a year.

While National has proposed new rules which will require councils to free up more land according to population growth, Labour has a blunter approach. It would scrap Auckland Council's land use rules, getting rid of restrictions on where and how high houses can go.

The two parties agree government needs to fund the infrastructure for big housing development, but would pay for it differently - National through a $1 billion contestable fund for councils and Labour through an infrastructure bonds scheme which charges homeowners through targeted rates.

Tackling the housing crisis

The political debate about housing affordability in New Zealand has reached fever pitch and housing issues are set to feature strongly in the 2017 General Election.

Following recent announcements by the National and Labour parties, we take a look at their policies on affordable, state, and social housing.

Affordable housing

National

• Create Special Housing Areas (SHAs) which allow fast-tracked building of houses. Introduced 2013, 210 SHAs created with capacity for 70,000 homes. So far, around 1100 houses built in Auckland.

• Free up Crown land in Auckland for housing developments, 40 per cent of which will be affordable or social housing. Introduced in 2015, capacity for up to 10,000 homes. So far, proposals signed off for 940 homes.

• Stimulate development by offering modest income-earners housing grants of up to $20,000. Introduced 2014, 12,000 grants issued for first-home buyers to date.

• $1 billion contestable fund for councils to advance housing developments which need infrastructure. Just announced, available later this year.

• Require councils to free up more land if they reach specific levels of population growth. Announced in June, finalised later this year.

• Tax capital gains on houses sold within two years of purchase, except for the family home or inherited property. Introduced in October. A land tax is a possibility if the rate of foreign, non-resident purchases rises.

• Consider urban development authorities to speed up development in areas of high housing need.

Labour

• Partner with private sector to build 10,000 new houses a year for 10 years (5000 in Auckland at less than $600,000 and 5000 elsewhere at less than $500,000).

• Create Affordable Housing Authority to drive housing development, including powers to seize land from property owners holding up large developments.

• Remove restrictions in Auckland which govern where and how high houses can be built.

• Create a bond scheme to pay for infrastructure costs, which are charged to homeowners through targeted rates.

• Subsidise employers to train 4000 apprentice builders.

• Tax capital gains on houses sold within five years of purchase, except for the family home or inherited property. Ban foreign, non-resident purchases and possibly remove tax incentives for landlords.

State housing

National

• Build or buy 4000 more state houses over the next three years, 3200 of them in Auckland. Announced this month.

• Work with community providers to create 504 new social housing places in Auckland over 3 years. Announced December, 1000 more places out for tender.

• Continue review of all state house tenancies. So far, 2000 tenancies reviewed. Another 3000 reviews expected in next 2-3 years.

Labour

• Increase state housing stock by 1000 properties a year, most of them in Auckland, until demand is met.

• Scrap requirement for Housing NZ to pay a dividend to Government, and put the agency back in charge of assessing people's housing needs.

• Immediately stop National's sale of state houses to community providers.

Other social housing

National

• Fund 3000 extra emergency housing places a year (800 beds available at any one time).

• Transfer up to 2000 state houses to community providers to allow them to play a greater role in social housing. Extend income-related rent subsidy to non-government providers.

• Build 150 "pop-up" houses in Auckland to house people on social housing waiting list.

• Grants of up to $5000 for people on social housing waiting list to relocate out of Auckland.

Labour

• Fund 5100 extra emergency housing places a year (2200 beds available at any one time).

- NZ Herald

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