Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern believes the Government's housing programme has been largely successful

The AM Show 25/06/2019

While KiwiBuild is floundering, the Prime Minister is defending her Government's housing programme, praising its investment in state housing and helping the homeless.

With less than a week until KiwiBuild's first year deadline, only 141 houses have been constructed - far below the initial 1000 home target.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted to The AM Show on Tuesday that the programme hasn't been meeting expectations. 

"It hasn't been at the pace that we'd like and so we know there are some things we need to work on and reset, which is what we are doing now."

Details of that recalibration had been expected to be announced this month, but on Monday the Prime Minister said Cabinet still hasn't signed off on it.

However, she said on Tuesday it was important to remember that KiwiBuild is only one part of the Government's wider housing programme, which she believes has been largely successful.

"The number of public housing placements - roughly 2000 additional public housing places that families are in - the investment in transitional housing, the work we have put into homelessness," she said.

More than 1200 new states homes have been built since the Government came to power and thousands more are under construction, she said last month. 

In Budget 2019, the Government also invested $197 million to strengthen Housing First- which moves homeless people into housing then provides wraparound services to support them.

"KiwiBuild is only one part of the agenda," Ardern said.

But The AM Show host Duncan Garner said KiwiBuild had been a flagship policy of Labour's at the election, with its ambitious target of building 100,000 homes in ten years, and criticised the Government for not delivering on it so far. 

Ardern said the Government had delivered on other key policies which would affect the housing market. 

"There are a couple of other things that were flagships for us too - stopping the sale of residential homes to foreign buyers, closing some of the tax loopholes that existed, and of course, we extended the brightline test.

"The mixture of those things means that we have got first home buyers, who previously made up 18 percent of the market, are now making up 24 percent of the market."

At a KiwiBuild summit on Monday, many in the industry expressed little confidence that the KiwiBuild programme was up to task. 

Housing Minister Phil Twyford was a no-show at the summit, with Ardern saying he needed to be at Cabinet in Wellington instead. But there has also been speculation he may be moved out of the job in a Cabinet reshuffle this week.