Government decision due on Queenstown accommodation supplement

by Lauren Pattemore - Mar 20, 2024

The government's long-awaited decision on whether it will update Queenstown's rural and urban boundaries to eradicate accommodation supplement inequity in the district will be delivered next week.

An out-of-date map of Queenstown from 1992 is being used to determine whether families receive a maximum of $120 or $305 a week through the means-tested supplement.

Social development and employment minister Louise Upston tells Crux the government's response to the petition is yet to be considered by parliament.

"It is expected to be tabled in Parliament in time to meet the March 25 deadline for responding," Ms Upston says.

Lakes Hayes Estate and Shotover Country Community Association (LHESCCA) chairperson Anita Golden says this issue has affected, and continues to affect, a number of residents living in these housing estates.

"A lot of these families, if they lived in Frankton, they would get that money, but because we're still classified as rural, anyone who moved out to this area isn't eligible for that.

"I personally know a lot of families that would benefit."

Housing areas that were developed after 1992, such as Shotover Country, Lake Hayes Estate, Hanley's Farm, and Jack's Point are not on the map and are classed as "rural" in the supplement's criteria.

Families living in these areas receive a maximum of $120 through the accommodation supplement, while families in the "urban" areas of Frankton, Queenstown Hill, Sunshine Bay, Fernhill and Arthurs Point can receive up to $305 a week to help with paying their rent, board or home-ownership costs.

LHESCCA's Ms Golden remembers writing letters to parliament asking for the boundaries to be updated.

"It was something we worked on for a number of years, but we hadn't been able to get any traction on it - to be able to get that petition, it was just amazing.

"A lot of families moved out here [to Lake Hayes and Shotover Country] and maybe weren't aware of the fact that might mean that they end up getting less money."

The post-code inequity issue was brought to parliament by Queenstown Salvation Army leader Andrew Wilson in 2022 via a petition. Then, in September last year, a select committee report recommended Queenstown's boundaries be updated and wished to "see urgent progress" on this being addressed.

The Ministry of Social Development also weighed in on the proposal and acknowledged Queenstown had the highest median rent in the country.

It says due to residential expansion, recipients of the supplement are unable to access the appropriate amount despite having housing costs equivalent to those within the existing boundary.

The ministry also recommended boundaries are updated when Statistics New Zealand updates its boundaries as other high-growth areas of New Zealand are hitting this same problem.

It listed Tauranga and Nelson as these spots.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council also weighed in, telling the select committee in a written statement it "supports the petition without reservation".

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