'We've got to build more houses', Judith Collins says ahead of policy announcement

Ahead of National’s housing policy announcement next week, Judith Collins says increasing the supply of affordable housing for low-income New Zealanders is a key step to lifting people out of poverty. 

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The National leader says building houses is key to lifting people out of poverty. Source: Breakfast

Collins told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning that increasing the housing supply was key to tackling rising house prices and increasing rents. 

Housing makes up a significant portion of people’s spending, so it was important to address, she said. 

“We’ve got to build more houses, and build more state and community houses. I have no problem saying that, because I actually really believe in housing.”

Her comments come as Barnardos service manager Agnes Kapisi-Sevi said earlier on the show the Covid-19 pandemic was having a negative effect on those already struggling. 

Host John Campbell challenged Collins’ record in the previous National Government, which didn’t initially recognise there was a housing crisis and sold more state houses than it built. 

“National did sell some state houses - a lot of them to community housing providers, so let’s get that right.

“Secondly, the 5000 state houses that Labour is now claiming - they’re all planned, and many of them funded and organised under National, because it takes time to build a house.”

She said National would also continue the Government's existing target to build 8000 more state houses

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Collins said reforming the RMA was key to building more houses, pointing to what she said was falling rent and housing prices in Christchurch because houses were being built rapidly. 

But, Campbell pointed to the $30 billion of insurance money paid out in the city.

Collins replied: “It’s not just money that builds houses, or people, it’s actually also getting rid of that red tape.”

But, she said reforming the RMA “will not solve every problem” when it came to lifting people out of poverty. 

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Alongside reducing housing costs, she said it was also about giving people work, providing food and keeping kids in education. 

Collins also said she had given “no thought of welfare cuts”.