MP attacks plan to lure state house tenants with cash

By Andrew Austin

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A government plan to offer cash incentives to prospective state house tenants willing to move out of Auckland highlights what little the Government has done for provinces like Hawke's Bay, Ikaroa-Rwhiti Labour MP Meka Whaitiri says.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett confirmed this week that the Government wants prospective tenants to consider moving to regions where dozens of state houses are vacant.

Reportedly in some cases people could be offered thousands of dollars in taxpayer sweeteners.

"We've really got to shift some of the thinking with those who are eligible for state assistance for housing," Ms Bennett said.

"And that means thinking more flexibly and looking at other areas of New Zealand that have got great employment opportunities and secure housing."

The plan was welcomed by Tukituki MP Craig Foss, who encouraged those on the state housing list in Auckland to move to Hawke's Bay.

"I'm always 'Backing the Bay' and encouraging people to move here," Mr Foss said.

However, Ms Whaitiri said that since "this half-baked housing policy was announced, it has been met with disbelief at the lack of thought gone into it".

"The mayors of Waitaki, Ashburton and Porirua, as well as organisations like Auckland Action Against Poverty, the Council of Christian Social Services and Oamaru Salvation Army have all expressed serious concerns about the logic of encouraging the poor and vulnerable to relocate to regions which are already under pressure with high unemployment.

"We have over 3100 people on Jobseeker support in the Bay, and housing data out today reveals that Hastings and Napier have state housing waiting lists of 91 and 104 respectively."

Ms Whaitiri said Mr Foss "should be standing up for the Bay and demanding a real plan for our region, not welcoming a potential new set of problems ... "I'm all for people moving to the Bay, but first we need to make sure there are sustainable, decent jobs, and social services ready and able to assist them. The Government needs a smart, effective plan for housing and regional growth - this is no plan for either," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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