Thursday, 19 May 2016

Paying the price for government stupidity

Guest writer Peter Grove

Wheeler's Corner guest contributor Peter Grove, is not young, in fact he is in his eighties, which means he’s experienced a hell of a lot of life. It is often thought that people Peter’s age don’t understand just how difficult it is for young people to survive these days. Nothing could be further from the truth. Peter writes with feeling with emotion and with experience, qualities which give his comments their power. His contribution below proves that many folk his age understand the harm that neoliberal beliefs and clap-trap have done to our society and communities. Wheeler's Corner thanks Peter G for his heartfelt contribution and willingly shares it amongst the good citizens of Aotearoa NZ.
 1. Peter wrote;
“If you go back in history and look back on our own situations you will find the cost of housing was not markedly different to what WINZ is doing. My wife and I have been on the home ownership ladder since 1960. Our first house, I built with an SAC loan of 2,500 quid.
Six years later we moved towns to another house which we financed with another loan, then in 1969 moved to Palmerston North to a pool house at pool house rental, from there a year later into our own house and a new mortgage; Five years later we moved back to Lower Hutt and another pool house, until we bought a permanent home, still in Lower Hutt.

Fifteen years later we moved to OZ and for four years lived in two different rental properties until moving back to Lower Hutt in 1994, where we lived with our daughter and son in law, rent free for three years. In the interim we had a couple of flats our daughter had purchased on our behalf with our finance, while we were in OZ.

We later sold these around 1997 at quite worthwhile capital gain and bought our present house for around $176, 000 financed with another loan this was paid off in short order with the proceeds from the sale of the two flats and we have lived here rent free for best part of eighteen years.

Our story is not too different to that of our contemporaries most of whom went through similar travails on the journey to home ownership. Most of our generation had the benefits of reasonable access to home ownership with Building Societies, State Advances Corporation, Group Housing and low interest loans of around 3%. Our journey started out with a loan of $5,000 and over the next 38 or so years, culminated in a mortgage for our present house before we paid it out shortly after purchase.

O K. I worked all those years in full employment, my wife likewise, after the youngest was at school in 1975. Most of my life I enjoyed good wages being a chippie. The arbitration Court in its determinations saw to it that our wages were on a slightly higher scale to other tradesmen due to the arduous conditions under which most of us worked.
For two or three years while living in Masterton I travelled to Lower Hutt daily to work for a Lower Hutt Company. Wages were quite good and my earnings were around 20 quid a week.

Because I was one of two of us driving the company bus from Masterton to Lower Hutt and back each day, a week about with the other driver. My wages were about 40 quid a week. The bus run started at 5.30 am and finished around 6pm at night. I was running a job for most of the time and believed I was earning every penny received.
Looking back our journey to home ownership was quite expensive and quite likely on a par with the conditions you have described, courtesy, The Daily Blog. It is likely those people caught up in that maelstrom qualify for the accommodation allowance from WINZ which is a direct transfer of taxpayer funds to the Fat Cat Rent Seekers in our midst. Most of our generation will have similar tales to tell.

What mine reveals is the extent to which working conditions have been allowed to deteriorate in this country. Gone is the protection of wages and conditions fought for and gained by the trade unions. Gone also, are most of the allowances which supplemented the weekly wage, tool money, overtime, travelling time and other little perks that pertained to our trade.
Worst of all in my view is the provision that now requires our qualified tradesmen to work in the rain. I have had the arse for refusing to work in the rain.

RNZ's John Campbell
My earlier offering was to show that Home Ownership has always been a hard rocky road for most of our generation, given some relief by the help of the Governments of the day which obviously put home ownership by the masses high up on their lists of priorities. If you want to publish my comments you are welcome. I doubt very much that my story will be too much different to that of others my age. We all seemed to be much in the same boat in those far off days. The real saving grace was full employment.
Click on  then click on RNZ’s John Campbell report
Peter G continues;

“I have now watched John Campbell’s contribution. Had I watched it earlier I would have had to keep my big trap shut. $1200 and $1300 a week for substandard housing is completely outrageous. Certainly when you consider sixty and seventy year old State houses are being torn down to leave completely bare sites with NO evidence of any replacements. Most of the houses still in Housing NZ ownership are virtually hovels due to substandard maintenance. I worked for a few months refurbishing some of those houses. Everything was done on the cheap. I turned over wooden bench tops to reveal the unused underside, and replaced the bottoms of kitchen drawers where they had abraded away from years of continual use. Instead of makeshift repairs such as those, all the kitchen units should have been replaced with new modern kitchens I found doors missing. In one bedroom I repaired seventeen holes in the Gib wall linings. In another house the hardboard lining had been stove in leaving a shape of someone’s head.

I worked on State Housing from 1950 onwards for six or so years. They were built to a good standard of mainly Ordinary Building Rimu which through the ensuing years was subject to attack from borer. Compared to treated Radiata Pine, now in universal use, Rimu was definitely a very substandard building material which has contributed greatly to the overall very poor condition of those early state homes.

If you consider the plight of the people in Campbell’s session, there are very real parallels to the plight of our university graduates now being hounded for repayment of Student Loans. The money was handed out seemingly, carte blanche with little by way of guidance as to how it should be used. In the hands of virtually teenagers, the opportunities for big nothing themselves would have proved overwhelming, leading to the mess they find themselves in now.

Good on John Campbell for striking yet another blow for the little people in our midst. So much for our long vaunted Welfare State. Welfare for the obscenely rich it is turning out to be. How much of the three billion dollars for tax cuts that are throwing Bill English’s budget into disarray will find their way down to the lower levels of our society It will likely be a repeat of the increase in GST which financed earlier tax cuts!



Anne Odogwu said...

I bought a former state house in 1984 that was built in 1942 so about 4 years older than myself. I'd returned to NZ in 1979 to less that a hundred dollars in my bank account and with a baby. We lived in my Mother's flat for 3 and a half years and then moved into a Housing NZ home for a year. I'd worked part-time from August 1980 and was lucky enough that the Post Office Savings Bank was running a First Home savings account so saved with that. All my tax refunds went straight to this so by April 1984 I had sufficient to put a deposit on my house. I did not qualify for a Housing NZ loan as they didn't believe that I earned enough to buy a home. I was probably one of the last people to qualify for claiming on the mortgage repayments.

I do not see how anyone can buy a house now in similar circumstances and it would be beyond me now to do so with the current astronomical house prices and unfortunately to even pay the rent is a nightmare now. It is definitely remote from the NZ that I grew up in.

My son did a science degree at Massey University but after graduation returned to London where he was born. He paid back all his student loan as with student allowance and a small job at Video Ezy he only borrowed the money for the fees. This money was paid back from his job in London and then he saved up to put himself through a changeover degree to law and a Masters in law. He has now been teaching English law for Eastern Europe since September 2008 and is based in Warsaw, Poland. He is also, doing a Ph. D with the London School of Oriental and African Studies and financing himself but I doubt he will return to NZ with his partner and son. Again, it seems he has achieved something that may be next to impossible now.

Young people are not so inclined to return to NZ.

Anne O

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