For the last few months it has only been landlords that have been able to access subsidies on insulation for homes. But after slow take-up by landlords, the Government has opened it up to everyone with a Community Services Card. Sustainability Trust chief executive Phil Squire talks about why it’s good news.
Some great news for low-income homeowners this week.
The Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes insulation programme that has been providing subsidies for low-income rental homes has just been expanded. Now people that own their own homes can get a 50 per cent subsidy for insulating ceilings and underfloors too.
The Warm Up NZ programme, managed by EECA, has been providing generous subsidies for low-income households since the early 2000s. The government investment makes a lot of sense on many levels – happier and healthier citizens, less hospital admissions and more time at school and work. It’s win-win-win from many perspectives.
Research that measured the benefit to cost ratio of the government investment came back at 6:1 for low-income households. That is to say, for every $1 spent on insulation there were health savings (mainly in prescriptions and hospital costs) of $6. Talk about successful social investment!
However, at the beginning of last year, Warm Up NZ fell victim to some political machinations and the total investment was slashed and retargeted to rental properties only.
This left low-income homeowners out in the cold. The Warm Up NZ rental programme was intended to encourage landlords with vulnerable tenants to get their homes insulated early (and to a high standard) prior to the insulation deadline – set by new regulations under the Residential Tenancies Act – of June 2019.
Over the past year, however, much to the surprise of the industry and EECA, there has been very little uptake by landlords. One would think that rationality would reign and if you had a legal requirement to get your rental insulated, had vulnerable tenants, and could get it done at 50% of the market cost – you’d jump in.
But this hasn’t happened. There are a variety of reasons, perhaps one being that government provided EECA with very little marketing budget so landlords could be forgiven for not being aware of the offer.
So, in order to ensure that allocated $18 million is used to benefit more householders, the Government have announced that the funding will now be available again for low-income homeowners.
An excellent call in our opinion.
Our experience in the past was that low-income homeowners formed more than 70 per cent of the uptake in Warm Up NZ, so we expect that the demand will take off very quickly and subsidies will soon be in short supply.
There are a lot of households that will qualify with the primary eligibility based on holding a Community Services Card.
Many middle-income households will be surprised to find they may meet the income threshold, for example a family with four kids and a household income of less than $85,000 will qualify.
Our advice is that if you are a homeowner and think you may be eligible for the subsidy – give us a call quick. And if you are a landlord, talk your tenants (or vice versa) as these subsidies will be going like hotcakes. We’ve already seen a spike in rental insulation enquiries and installations since the new Which landlord are you? and the Warm house, cool landlord campaigns launched last month. So to get upgraded quickly, cheaply and professionally, book with Sustainability Trust today. We always include free warm, dry homes advice for tenants, and now offer a full refund of rental assessment fees if you insulate with us.
Last financial year, we provided the highest number of free, lined curtains ever to families with Community Services Cards. To be exact, we gave 2462 sets of curtains to 604 households! But we want to give out even more this year before our Wellington Curtain Bank closes on 30 November.
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