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Grim reality for New Zealand's forgotten families

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release

"Wellington, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 Issued on the Authority of Commissioner Garth McKenzie (Territorial Commander) The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory

Grim reality for New Zealand's forgotten families

Salvation Army social policy spokesman Major Campbell Roberts says today's food inflation data released by Statistics New Zealand won't be news to New Zealand's forgotten families.

About one in five New Zealand children is deemed to live in poverty (this is defined as the income of the family being below 60 per cent of the median income).

The majority of these 200,000 children live with just their mother, surviving on the domestic purposes benefit.

With food prices increasing 9.5 per cent in the year to September 2008, and prices for rental housing, power and the other necessities rising, these families are becoming increasingly vulnerable, Major Roberts said.

The number of families provided with food parcels by The Salvation Army in the 2007/2008 year rose 13 per cent on the previous year. The number of parcels distributed increased from 25,720 to almost 30,000.

Today's inflation figures are a timely reminder that we urgently need to re-examine how we can ease the pressure on these families. Not to act will ensure the health, education and futures of these children is severely compromised, and will help perpetuate the cycle of deprivation and missed opportunity, Major Roberts said.

"If the current global economic crisis continues to impact on New Zealanders' standard of living, it is essential policies be developed to ensure our most at-risk families are protected," he said.

ENDS

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