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Welfare Reforms Impacting on Young People and Families

Tuesday, 9 April, 2013

Welfare Reforms Impacting on Young People and Families

“Since the introduction of the youth focused Welfare Reforms our members are reporting an upswing in young people requesting food parcels and emergency accommodation’, says Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS). “It appears as though there has been a slight increase in the numbers of young people sleeping rough, in doorways or under bridges. And a large increase in teenagers who are dependent on sleeping on their friends’ couches – until the generosity runs out and they have to find another couch to surf on”.

“As part of the Welfare Reforms a Youth Payment and a Youth Parent Payment were introduced in July 2012”, said McGlinchey. “These increases in demands from our members have all happened after this. We need to have a very close look at the reasons for the increased needs of our young people. These policies, or how they are being applied, may need to be amended.”

The 15th Vulnerability Report shows that more people are unemployed, yet the number of people receiving an unemployment benefit has decreased. While many of those who are unemployed may be in families who have dropped from having two income earners to only one, it appears others are just struggling to meet the harder benefit rules being imposed by Work and Income.

“This increase in unemployment rate and decrease in benefit support is being felt by NZCCSS members as they struggle to meet the demand for food parcels, budgeting and for emergency accommodation,” said McGlinchey. “Even an organisation like the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research is predicting a slow recovery from the economic recession, so for those with no work the outlook is bleak – especially if you can’t get access to and maintain an unemployment benefit. New Zealand must consider how the most vulnerable people can be adequately supported – and it is becoming obvious that tougher welfare systems aren’t achieving this”.

“In hard economic times Christian social service agencies expect to be called on to deliver more services”, said McGlinchey. “However, with the increasing rules and regulations on receiving a benefit due to the Welfare Reforms, our members are becoming the default option to provide basic levels of support to people who cannot get any other help. This high level demand has really drained the resources of our members who are struggling to keep up with demand. We need to have more responsive benefit systems in place so that people can live in dignity and families can properly support their children”.

The Vulnerability Report is only published on-line and can be found here

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