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Low income linked to foodbank use

New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services Low income linked to foodbank use

Foodbank clients do not receive enough income to cover basic living costs according to findings of a report released today by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services.

“The people we are seeing at the foodbanks are on very low incomes”, said Major Campbell Roberts, Council of Christian Social Services spokesperson.

The Poverty Indicator Project report says that the typical ‘at risk family’ is a female-headed sole parent household with average income of around $300 or less, in private rental accommodation with housing costs of around $120 or more and weekly debt repayments to Work and Income of around $20 .

The report found that after-tax incomes for foodbank clients averaged from $180 to $316 across the seven foodbanks involved in the study, compared to the New Zealand average of $8101.

“A common issue for these families is that they cannot afford their basic living expenses” said Major Roberts, “as a consequence they go without food or some other essential item”.

“Sometimes the only alternative they have is to seek the help of a foodbank”, he maintained.

The report shows that the majority of households coming to the foodbanks receive their income solely from benefits, however it also identifies that there are a number of foodbank clients who receive a low-wage income.

Major Roberts noted that there were some positive signs in the report. “It is encouraging to see a small drop in numbers coming to the foodbanks and there is some indication that this is due to an improvement in Work and Income ensuring that people receive their full benefit entitlements”.

The Council of Christian Social Services has been running the Poverty Indicator Project foodbank study since the end of 2000. The study monitors the quarterly trends in the circumstances of clients at seven foodbanks across the country.

Key Results Information about NZCCSS and the Poverty Indicator Project

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) represents the social services of the Anglican, Baptist, Catholic and Presbyterian Churches as well as the Methodist Church and the Salvation Army. Collectively, our members have around 550 social service delivery sites across the country. The Poverty Indicator Project has been running in this format since the beginning of 2001.

Seven previous quarterly reports have been produced. The Project focuses on key results about the housing, income, employment and debt circumstance of clients who have gone to seven foodbanks – one each in Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Palmerston North, Hamilton, and Manukau City.

Local foodbank contacts are available from Andrew Green at NZCCSS (04) 473 2627. Note that this is only an indication of poverty in two ways:

· it only measures result from a small sub-set of the total number of foodbanks in NZ (approx. 380); and

· those coming to foodbanks are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of those experiencing some form of poverty. They are the ones who have the courage and/or are desperate enough to ask for food – usually after exhausting or being refused other forms of help.

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