THE SALVATION ARMY
MEDIA RELEASE, Auckland, 11 July 2006
Issued on the Authority of Major Campbell Roberts Social Policy Director, The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory
Standards Research Cause For Concern
The Salvation Army believes aspects of MSD Living Standards Research released today confirm their experience that there is inadequate support for some New Zealand households.
The report highlights that nearly 1 in 10 New Zealanders live in severe hardship and that the number of Maori and Pacific Island families experiencing severe hardship has risen significantly since 2000. The gap between affluence and poverty is widening and this will inevitably lead to increasing levels of strain on community wellbeing
Salvation Army Social Policy Director Major Campbell Roberts said: “We must continue to look at the adequacy and delivery of the income tested benefit system. The Living Standards research shows that 26% of income tested beneficiaries are experiencing severe hardship. The welfare system was put in place to relieve severe hardship so there is obviously a failure occurring.”
Salvation Army research in the last year has drawn attention to the declining rate of homeownership. Living Standards Research shows that households owning their own housing with or without a mortgage are more likely to have a higher standard of living than those renting.
“There are options available that can reverse this declining homeownership trend and New Zealand needs to embrace them in a more active way.
“There is a tendency in New Zealand to ‘blame the victim’. This research, however, clearly shows that often lower standards of living are caused by multiple life shocks or crises that unexpectantly arrive on households.
“More and better co-ordinated support is required to assist families at such times. Community organisations deliver this kind of support well and Government needs to ensure these organisations are properly funded so that this work can be expanded and co-ordinated,” he said.