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A policy of cynical neglect: The slow demise of the Accommodation Supplement

A policy of cynical neglect: The slow demise of the Accommodation Supplement (February 2016)
Alan Johnson 

In March 2010 The Treasury offered the Ministers of Finance and Social Development advice onincreasing the maximum rates paid through the Accommodation Supplement. These rates had notbeen adjusted since 2007 and were then based on rent levels in 2005. The estimated annual cost ofthe proposed adjustment was $60 million . Similar advice was offered to a Labour led government in 2008. Then as in 2010 the advice was rejected and the maximum subsidies remained at 2005 rentlevels – as they do still in 2016.

This paper documents changes in spending on and takeupof the Accommodation Supplement since2000 as well as changes in rents over the past decade. This documentation is offered in support of athesis that the failure of successive governments to adjust the maximum subsidies available underthe Accommodation Supplement is a policy of cynical neglect. In other words, this failure has been deliberate and done with some understanding of its impact on low-income households.