Barry Soper: Will Paula Bennett's latest policy work?

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Minister for Social Housing Paula Bennett. Photo / File
Minister for Social Housing Paula Bennett. Photo / File

It was a policy that seemed to have caught our purse string puller Bill English unawares and it arguably caused more excitement than his eighth Budget a few days later.

It was the money being made available to those who're finding Auckland too expensive to live in, and that would apply to most people who're forced to rent in the wop wops but work in the city.

But they're not the target market, the city needs their labour, particularly if they're involved in the construction industry.

From today though the real needy will be able to head off to the likes of Ngaruawahia, Huntly, Gisborne, Wanganui or Lower Hutt, all places Paula Bennett's identified as being able to accommodate them. To help them on their way they'll have $5000 taxpayer bucks in their backpack, the inducement they'll get for taking the pressure off the cars and garages they've been sleeping in.

The place they go to will have to have vacant state houses, those that are untainted by P which it would seem are becoming more rare.

No one will be forced to leave Auckland but the Social Housing Minister says it'll at least give them the choice to relocate. She says it may not be for everyone and of course she's right.

Those who're in work, or with kids in school, will find it difficult, along with those who have family connections, although if they're living in cars those connections are obviously about as valuable to them as a bald, Firestone retread.

So in effect the policy is for the unemployed without kids at school, able move from one desperate housing situation to another in the hope of finding a job in the regions.

But at least it does give them an option and if you listen to Bennett there is some interest with more than 130 inquiries about the grant since she announced it.

To qualify the punters will have to turn up at a Winz office and state their desperate case, and if they can convince the pen pushers, they're on their way.

But what's the stop them from taking the money, heading off to the sticks and deciding after the money runs out, that it's not for them?

Well it's a free world, unless you're a long suffering taxpayer that is.

- Newstalk ZB

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