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Labour's HomeStart figures 'misleading'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/08/2016

The government is accusing Labour of releasing misleading information on the number of people being turned down for KiwiSaver HomeStart grants.

Labour on Monday released figures showing that over the last three years the number of declined applications had nearly doubled.

It said that since the thresholds were changed a year ago, the number of failed applications ballooned from 523 to 1259.

Of those declined, the number which exceeded the income cap trebled and the number which exceeded the house price cap doubled.

Labour leader Andrew Little  © Getty Images Labour leader Andrew Little  L

abour leader Andrew Little says the government is going to have to keep on raising the thresholds if it doesn't do anything about building affordable houses in Auckland.

But Housing Minister Nick Smith says Labour's figures overlook the fact that the number of people using the scheme has trebled.

"Labour is getting a reputation for telling only half the story on housing," he said.

"The number of grants declined under the scheme increased from 1834 in the year to June 2014 to 4951 in the year to June 2016.

"But the number of successful grants has also increased, from 6162 in the year to June 2014 to 15,411 in the year to June 2016 - the proportion of grants declined is unchanged."

Assistance for first home buyers was part of the original KiwiSaver scheme introduced in 2006.

The scheme was changed by the government in April 2015 by doubling the grants for buyers of new homes and by increasing the income and house price caps.

This assistance was named KiwiSaver HomeStart.

The income and house price caps were again adjusted this week to reflect increases in wages and house prices.

"KiwiSaver HomeStart has now helped more than 15,000 New Zealanders pull together a deposit to buy their first home," Dr Smith said.

"The main reason about 30 per cent of applicants each year have been declined under both Labour and National's KiwiSaver schemes to support home buyers is because they have not maintained their continuous KiwiSaver contributions for the required three years."

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