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PlunketLine decision highlights funding woes

Media Release
For Immediate Release

1 May 2006

PlunketLine decision highlights funding woes

Members of COmVOiceS, a coalition of Tangata Whenua, community and voluntary organisations, have reacted with dismay at the government’s recent decision to withdraw funding for PlunketLine, saying the case is symptomatic of widespread funding issues facing the Tangata Whenua, community and voluntary sector.

Although PlunketLine was exceeding the maximum level of service that they were funded to provide, the government has cited unanswered calls as the determining factor for withdrawing the contract. Plunket’s contract requires them to answer between 58,000 and 70,000 calls per annum. However, performance records reveal that Plunket was actually exceeding government targets with the service, answering calls at a rate of 76,000 per annum.

Andrea Goble, General Manager of the Funding Information Service says this highlights a common problem where the level of funding for a contract does not match the demand for services within the community.

“Tangata Whenua, community and voluntary sector groups provide vital community services that would otherwise not be delivered. Often, there is a bigger demand for these services than groups receive funding for. This means organisations may have to defend their performance even though they are exceeding the level of output that the funding provides for,” says Tina Reid, Executive Director of the New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations.

“The above figures prove that the funding currently provided for PlunketLine does not match the demand for the service. When demand increases, there is a need for funding formulas to be able to respond positively to this. Unfortunately, the issue of funding inflexibility is one that many Tangata Whenua, community and voluntary sector organisations face. Contracts need to take a longer-term focus to cater for increases in demand for services like PlunketLine”, says Tony Spelman, Co-Chair of the Community Sector Taskforce.

Representatives from the Community Sector Taskforce, the New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations, the Funding Information Service, Health Care Aotearoa, the New Zealand Council of Social Services, Presbyterian Support New Zealand and DPA lend their support to the establishment of a fair, sustainable funding system so that organisations like Plunket can keep providing valuable services to their communities.

ENDS

COMVOICES is an independent coalition of Tangata Whenua and leading community and voluntary organisations that has been set up to promote the voluntary sector and the contribution it makes to New Zealand society.

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