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Is The Welfare Safety Net Starting To Slip?

Is The Welfare Safety Net Starting To Slip?

“The widening gap between those reported to be without work and those who are receiving benefits along with the increasing demands placed on community organisations to provide emergency support may be pointing to a slipping welfare net”, says Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS). “The release today of the 14th Vulnerability Report indicates by the third quarter of last year the numbers of people on benefits had dropped across most benefit groups, yet the number reporting they were unemployed had grown by 19,000 people. In most areas the demands on emergency assistance and on ongoing basic support needs had reached new record highs.”

“The biggest recent changes that are likely to affect benefit take-up and demand for social services is the tightening of access to social welfare as the Welfare Reforms take effect,” said McGlinchey. “We are monitoring the effect of these Reforms on our community social service agency member network. While it is still early in the implementation period, there appears to be some increases in demand for services as people find the benefit support, which was once an integral part of New Zealand’s welfare net, harder to get. At this stage it may be as a result of the welfare changes going through a settling in period – or it may be that some of our most vulnerable citizens are no longer getting the support we expect for our fellow New Zealanders”.

“NZCCSS members and other community organisations are already struggling to meet present levels of demand. The further big Welfare Reform changes expected this year may result in some people not being able to get the assistance they need,” said McGlinchey. “If this happens we will see more families and individuals losing their homes, becoming unwell, not being able to access healthcare, unable to buy sufficient food, and in children moving from school to school as families seek emergency housing. We know that this is bad for our society and, as people and families in these situations require intensive and expensive ongoing support to get back on their feet, it is also bad for our economy”.

“The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services urges Work and Income to take a very supportive approach to implementing the Welfare Reforms and to ensuring that their clients’ wellbeing is paramount”, said Rod Watts NZCCSS Board Chairman. “NZCCSS social service organisations will do their best to support vulnerable members of our communities, but we cannot replace the government in ensuring all New Zealanders have their food, housing, energy and other basic needs met”.

New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services



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