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National’s Family Changes Could Cause Problems

22 August 2005
For Immediate Release


National’s Changes To Family Assistance Could Cause As Many Problems As They Solve


COMVOICES, an independent coalition of Tangata Whenua and leading community and voluntary organisations, has sounded a note of caution about the National Party’s proposed tax changes, and in particular plans to move away from targeted assistance for families in need.

COMVOICES Member and Executive Director of the New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations, Tina Reid, said although National Leader Don Brash said no one would be worse off from National’s proposed tax changes, families in crisis were still likely to need a lot of assistance from Tangata Whenua, and the community and voluntary sector.

“National is proposing a move away from targeted funding through family assistance to extra funding for families through tax relief. The transition is likely to mean a lot more pressure on organisations that advise and support families in crisis, including the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, Iwi-based services, and Family Budgeting Services, as well as a range of other service providers.

“The Sector is looking for assurances from National that community services are adequately funded to provide the necessary safety net for those families in need during the transition and beyond,” she said.

“We will also be watching to make sure that funding to the sector is not affected by cuts in public spending generally, such as in health, education and social services,” she said.

Iris Pahau, Community Sector Taskforce Development Manager, said funding levels in the Sector were already incredibly stretched.

“There is already a limited pool of public funding available to meet the growing community demand for services. Tangata Whenua, and community and voluntary organisations are already being asked to provide more and more services for less and less,” she said.

Philanthropy New Zealand Executive Director Robyn Scott said that the Sector was also keen for whoever was in Government to take a proactive stance to encourage as many New Zealanders as possible to give money through tax efficient mechanisms.

“We would really like to see the issue of imputation credits revisited to enable the not-for-profit sector to benefit from the refunding of imputation credits. Because charities have taxation exemption they are unable to claim the imputation credit against taxable income. This means that a body which is intended to be a non tax payer is de facto paying tax.

“New Zealand society depends on the Sector to do essential work that otherwise wouldn’t get done. Refunding imputation credits would see more money available to support the valuable work of Tangata Whenua and Community and Voluntary Sector organisations. Many key services would not be delivered if it wasn’t for community and voluntary organisations,” Ms Scott said.

Statistics New Zealand figures from 2002 show that New Zealanders aged 15 years and over spent 536 million hours on unpaid work outside the home in 1999. The estimated value of this work was just over $5 billion a year, equivalent to over five percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

ENDS

COMVOICES is a project which has been set up to promote the voluntary sector and the contribution it makes to New Zealand society. It was founded by the following voluntary sector organisations:

- New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations

- Funding Information Service

- Healthcare Aotearoa

- Community Sector Taskforce

- Association of Non-Governmental Organisations of Aotearoa (ANGOA)

- Philanthropy New Zealand

- New Zealand Council of Social Services

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