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Budget 2011 – Cementing the Inequalities

Budget 2011 – Cementing the Inequalities

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) social service agency members have identified that much of the misery and social disease they see every day in their communities is caused by the ever increasing inequalities in our society. The changes in the Working for Families regime will see lower income families getting some small increases in their weekly wage, but this will be more than negated by the additional costs imposed by Kiwi Saver and the increases in costs on food, petrol, accommodation and other basic necessities.

The changes made in this Budget tend to cement in these inequalities and build on last year’s tax cut rational of making the better-off better off and the worst-off no worse of. The kind of change that will make a real difference to our foodbank, budgeting, family counselling and social services clients is an increase in the minimum wage, benefit levels and access to income related rental accommodation. This will create hope and provide a pathway forward for the most vulnerable in our communities.

Increases for Dementia Treatment Welcomed The projected increases in the number of dementia sufferers in New Zealand have been highlighted in many studies including the NZCCSS report; Working together we can respond to dementia: Future Directions for Services. The two hundred new dementia beds provided for in this Budget are sorely needed and will provide for good level care for dementia sufferers and greater peace of mind for their family members.

Retention of Community Response Fund Praised A number of positive social service initiatives have come through in this Budget including the extension of the Community Response Fund. This fund is designed to assist organisations respond to the increasing demand placed on their communities as more people are impacted by unemployment and reduced incomes. The Community Response Fund has allowed social service providers to continue operating and meeting our clients’ needs in very difficult times. The extension of this Fund will allow social service organisations who are successful in their applications to continue to respond proactively to these ever increasing demands.

While the retention of the Community Response Fund for an additional year is very positive, there is no funding set aside for a Cost Price Index (CPI) increase. This represents a significant cut in real funding to community organisations at a time of very high demand. NZCCSS members actively called for a CPI increase in this Budget, the lack of this increase will result in some services being cut back as providers try to adjust their service costs to a zero increase in income.

ENDS

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