Shutting up shop at Housing NZ isn’t a social service

Press Release – Public Service Association

Proposed changes at Housing New Zealand prove the National-led Government is more interested in cost-cutting than in providing efficient, linked-up public services, but that’s a move that will cost society more in the end, says the PSA.28 February 2012

Shutting up shop isn’t a social service

Proposed changes at Housing New Zealand prove the National-led Government is more interested in cost-cutting than in providing efficient, linked-up public services, but that’s a move that will cost society more in the end, says the PSA.

As a social landlord, Housing New Zealand has a unique duty of care to its tenants, but that responsibility has all but been forgotten as it looks to shut its offices to clients and only talk to them through a national call centre.

The state housing provider has told the PSA it is set to cut 70-220 jobs as the agency narrows its focus to managing properties and instructs staff to stop assisting tenants’ with their wider social needs.

“It’s illogical, Housing New Zealand is best placed to link tenants to the other social services they may need and it’s played a vital role in doing that up to now.,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.“

“That liaison may only have involved meeting clients once to understand the issues and get the ball rolling or some gentle encouragement to co-operate with mental health staff or other service workers who turn up on the doorstep.

“The direct contact that Housing new Zealand staff presently provide can have significant impact on the wellbeing of tenants and thereby the wider community. If you take that support away you invite problems that eventually, one or other state agency will have to deal with.

“What happened to the Government’s goal of linked-up, more efficient public services? What agencies will pick up the liaison work that housing managers have provided until recently?

“This is nothing more than a cost exercise that has potential to result in more homelessness and more money having to be spent to fix mistakes. You can’t take the social out of Housing New Zealand, it’s a social landlord,” says Richard Wagstaff.

ENDS

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