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Increasing poverty no surprise to DCM

12 July 2006

DCM Bulletin

Increasing poverty no surprise to DCM

Sadly, a new report on poverty in New Zealand provides no surprises for Downtown Community Ministry and only confirms to us the hardships our clients face.

The Ministry of Social Development report says the number of beneficiary families with children faced the biggest increase in experiencing severe poverty.

Those in severe hardship across the population rose to 8 percent compared to 5 percent in 2000.

DCM clients are predominantly non custodial parents and many have significant involuntary deductions taken from their benefit by IRD for child support payments. However, because this money doesn’t go directly to the other parent clients often feel under pressure to contribute more cash to their ex-partner.

Street People Project Coordinator Jen Long says most clients she knows in non custodial situations “pay easily over 10 percent of their benefit to IRD and more again to their ex-partner.”

She says “this means there is very little for themselves”.

‘Working for Families’, the government’s targeted assistance package, gives support to those already working and therefore does not address those with most hardship. Many DCM clients are unable to work because of health related issues (including addictions) and therefore don’t get further benefit assistance.

Also the increases in electricity costs have had a huge impact on the situation of those on low incomes.

DCM Director Stephanie McIntyre believes that those who use DCM services share the same aspirations as the average person but are denied the chance to reach them. “Like most people they want a home, to earn sufficient income, maintain good health and to have good relationships with family and friends.”

The report described living standards across seven categories, from “severe poverty” to “very good”. It assessed the “basics” people lacked and what comforts or luxuries people had. Those in severe hardship were judged to lack an average of 39 percent of basics.


ENDS

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