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Poverty Taskforce Begins Work

A six-member Poverty Taskforce, set up recently by the Christchurch City Council, will be working throughout the holiday period.

Headed by the Mayor, Garry Moore, the Taskforce is a high-powered group that has been asked by the Council to provide a comprehensive report on poverty in the city and possible solutions by March next year.

Already the members - the Mayor, Paul Dalziel, Professor of Economics at Canterbury University, Carole Anderton, the chairwoman of the City Council's Community Services Committee, Mark Solomon, Ngai Tahu, Dr Sue Bagshaw, and Major Campbell Roberts, Salvation Army commander, have divided the workload.

Over the holiday period research projects focusing on issues around income and the social impact of poverty are planned. Both will be run in conjunction with the University of Canterbury.

Another project will be to plan a series of community workshops, focused on identifying and advocating solutions to poverty, and a further project will address the barriers that people in low-income situations face and offer possible solutions.

A report to the Taskforce says that the City Council already provides many services and resources for its citizens and groups of citizens with needs linked to limited or low-income circumstances.

The preliminary report says that community funding and assistance totals $2.600,000 a year at present but includes a sum of $1.1 million for social initiatives that could be changed in February when they come up for renewal.

Under employment services, the Council, through the Canterbury Development Corporation, spends more than $1.7 million a year.

This figure breaks down to $1.3 million for employment schemes, $565,588 for youth employment, and $193,500 for employment services.

The Council also helps low-income residents through its housing schemes.

It is estimated that at least 80 per cent of all Council housing involvement relates to low-income residents or to people with hardship.

The Council will be spending about $7.5 million on housing in this financial year although the revenue received is expected to be more than $9 million.

All excess revenue is reinvested in the housing field.

The report says that the Council will spend about $4.4 million this financial year on specifically targeted at the prevention of poverty and hardship. This includes funds for housing reinvestment, community and employment services.

In addition the Council provides universal services, available to all citizens, and these include libraries, parks, leisure services, and the art gallery.

These will cost the Council more than $49.5 million this financial year. The Council report says the total Council response to poverty and hardship is difficult to quantify but a full analysis will be undertaken next year.

Further information: George Clark, Taskforce co-ordinator: 3371 1933.

Christchurch City Council http://www.ccc.govt.nz


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