HCNZHousing Corporation of New Zealand
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It should not be surprising that Accommodation Benefit recipients had lower total incomes than HCNZ tenants, since most of the former received lower benefits than the latter (Ministry of Housing 1991, Department of Social Welfare 1991, 1992a).
Although HCNZ clients had higher incomes (benefits) than Accommodation Benefit recipients, this was to meet their greater overall need, as implicitly acknowledged by the structure of the benefit system.
Accommodation Benefit recipients, while in need of some assistance, were considered in less need than HCNZ tenants and so received smaller subsidies.
The initial impact of the reforms, according to these figures, is an increase in the proportion of state house tenants with outgoings-to-income ratios of over 30% and 40%, and a corresponding decrease in the proportion of HCNZ tenants with outgoings-to-income ratios less than 30%.
Had HCNZ clients and former Accommodation Benefit recipients been similar in terms of their housing need, this would have constituted an improvement in horizontal equity, as the government claimed.
The notion of serious housing need employed by HCNZ prior to 1992 incorporated these categories.
The institutional change of the HCNZ to Housing New Zealand (HNZ), a quasi-state-owned enterprise, may also have increased tenure insecurity.
In sum, the change to market rents for state house tenants, and the institutional changes from a socially minded HCNZ to a primarily business-focused HNZ, appear to have resulted in reduced tenure security for state house tenants.
While direct indicators show that state house tenants were better off than Accommodation Benefit recipients prior to the reforms, this was the result of the in-kind subsidy offered to the HCNZ tenants, not because the HCNZ tenants were in less need of assistance than Accommodation Benefit recipients.
3) In its 1989 report to the House of Representatives, HCNZ observed that "Eighty-nine percent of customers housed met the criteria for serious housing need, exceeding its `Serious Housing Need' targets in all major outputs" (Housing Corporation of New Zealand 1989:5).
11) While 69% of HCNZ tenants had "outgoings to income" ratios of less than 50%, only 53% of Accommodation Benefit recipients did.