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Govt defends cost of housing consultants

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/05/2016
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The government says the multi-million consultants' bill for its state house sell-off is money well spent and has labelled criticism of it as misguided.

Labour is attacking the scheme - yet to register a sale - over its "obscene" $26.7 million spend on consultants.

"Unbelievably the government has 129 officials beavering away on how to flog off publicly owned land and homes that should be used to house the homeless," said housing spokesman Phil Twyford.

But Bill English, the minister responsible for Housing NZ, says Labour is being "pretty silly".

The money was spread over five years of major change during which the government spent up to $9 billion on housing subsidies, he told RNZ.

"We've had the choice of either sitting paralysed in case we use some consultants or getting on and making change in a system which has evidently been failing, and everyone except Phil Twyford agrees with that."

More consultants could have been used to get things done faster because it didn't know about scale property developments, he said.

The government was spending most of the project's budget on fundamental reform of "moribund" state housing system, Mr English said.

The sale of up to 8000 state houses over the next few years - announced in January 2015 - is a major part of the government's shake-up of social housing.

No sales have yet been confirmed and one of the original buyers the government touted, the Salvation Army, ruled themselves out early on.

Last week, the sale of almost 350 state houses in Invercargill was put on hold after prospective buyer Pact Group pulled out.

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