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Budget Represents A Hand-Up

Budget Represents A Hand-Up

"Today's Budget won't deal a body-blow to poverty in New Zealand, but it throws a good punch at it" was the assessment of Paula Skilling, Executive Officer of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS). "This Budget is very positive in that it offers a hand-up for New Zealand's struggling families."

Ms Skilling was particularly pleased about the significant increases to Family Support payments. NZCCSS has consistently encouraged the Government to invest in providing more support for low-income families, in line with policies in other developed countries such as Australia or the United Kingdom.

"Finally", said Ms Skilling, "the Government has promised to deliver on what families need. At the moment over 900,000 New Zealanders live below the poverty line and one in three children live in poverty. For many New Zealanders with children life is a long battle for survival, and half-hearted government initiatives just haven't been enough to make a difference for them."

NZCCSS believes the Budget shows the Government recognises the long-term benefits of investing in children.

However Ms Skilling expressed disappointment about the length of time until the bulk of the Government's investment in families is set to kick in. "Families are struggling to care for their children right now. These problems need to be addressed urgently, not in two or three years' time. We don't want to be cynical about the timing of the investment - but it is somewhat difficult not to be. It needs to be sped up."

NZCCSS also believes the relationship between Work and Income and IRD will need to be carefully managed. "It would be a travesty if the Government's positive new initiatives weren't implemented in a really user-friendly way."

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