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Budget – Must Be An Election Year

---- NZ COUNCIL OF CHRISTIAN SOCIAL SERVICES MEDIA RELEASE ---
For Immediate Use

Budget – Must Be An Election Year

“This year’s Budget is not bad – but it’s not great either,” says Jeremy Irvine, New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services’ (NZCCSS) Executive Officer.

“We welcome the $12.4 million increase for 2005-06 for home support services for older New Zealanders, which the Government says will help allow for improvements in quality and working conditions, and cover increases in the prices.”

“Residential aged care funding is, however, an all together different matter.”

Mr Irvine notes that NZCCSS is interested to see what the Government’s announcement of $38.4 million will really mean for residential aged services providers.

“Until it’s clear precisely where, and how, this money is going to be allocated, and what the effect this will have on our providers, we’ll reserve our judgement,” Mr Irvine says.

“That said, we’re yet to be convinced that the announcements today will do more than maintain the often-perilous status quo for many Christian-based residential aged care providers.”

“The Government’s also missed a great chance to show some vision for the future mix of aged care services, which we’re frankly disappointed with. Band-aid solutions won’t work in the long term.”

Mr Irvine highlighted a number of positive initiatives for older New Zealanders.

“The investment of $3 million over the next four years to improve and expand services for elder abuse and neglect prevention is welcome, as is the funding for the development of a code of practice for home equity schemes.”

NZCCSS also welcomed a range of announcements which will positively benefit those in need.

“The raising of the thresholds for tax, especially at the bottom level, and the regular CPI indexing of these thresholds is a very sensible and positive policy, especially for low and fixed income households,” Mr Irvine observes.

NZCCSS is pleased with increased funding in areas such as social housing, the rates rebate scheme, and early childhood education.

“This additional support is helpful. Early childhood education, for instance, and childcare make a big difference to families, and so making this more accessible and affordable is really important.”

“What is clear from today’s announcements is one thing – it must be an election year,” Mr Irvine concludes.

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