Although it is not possible to standardise measures of housing costs across the two populations because of data limitations, there is some indication that HCNZ clients had, on average, higher pre-subsidy accommodation costs than Accommodation Benefit recipients (Department of Social Welfare 1990, Ministry of Housing 1991).
On average HCNZ tenants had higher incomes than Accommodation Benefit recipients.
In 1991 approximately 84% of HCNZ clients (Ministry of Housing 1991) and over 99% of Accommodation Benefit recipients were beneficiaries (Department of Social Welfare 1991, 1992a).
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.