Thursday, June 20, 2024

Time to deliver on housing strategies says Auditor-General

A new report from Auditor-General, John Ryan, has found that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has made significant achievements in its five years leading the system.

The Ministry’s challenge now, Mr Ryan says, is to lead the delivery of its strategies and plans.

“The Ministry has largely set up the frameworks and governance arrangements to support its leadership role. That is important, but delivering against these is critical to improving the system’s performance and housing outcomes for New Zealanders,” said Mr Ryan.

The housing and urban development system involves many public and private organisations. In October 2018, the Government established the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to lead the system.

In compiling his report, Mr Ryan says he wanted to understand how well-placed the Ministry is to carry out its leadership role and identify actions to help the Ministry succeed.

“New Zealand faces significant, complex challenges with housing and urban development that need to be addressed. These include a decreasing number of people who own their own home, more people waiting for public housing, and inequalities in housing outcomes that disproportionally affect Māori and Pasifika among others,” he said.

The report found that, with others, the Ministry prepared a shared vision and outcomes, a clear strategy, and implementation plans. The Ministry has also improved performance and monitoring information, put in place governance arrangements, and built its capabilities, the Auditor-General said.

“The Ministry was responding to the Covid-19 pandemic at the same time, during which it worked with others to house 1000 homeless people. It was also responsible for, or had contributed to, other initiatives – including the Aotearoa/New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan (2020-2023), the first comprehensive cross-agency plan to prevent and reduce homelessness.”

A homeless person in Auckland CBD (file image).

Among the report’s recommendations is that the Ministry continues to improve its understanding of the system’s current and projected performance, and regularly report on performance to the public and those responsible for influencing housing outcomes.

Mr Ryan notes that the challenges in getting individual organisations working together as a system are not unique to housing.

“The public sector wants to work more collectively to improve outcomes. To do this, public organisations need to be purposeful and deliberate about how they balance organisational and wider priorities, share information, align activity, and combine resources.”

“I am interested in public organisations achieving joint outcomes effectively, and my Office will continue to carry out work to understand and highlight the factors that support it,” he said.

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