The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) attended the launch of the Salvation Army’s latest yearly “State of the Nation” report on Thursday.
ANZASW welcomes the report and commends the Salvation Army for drawing attention to urgent issues.
This year’s report should be seen as a wake-up call to the country; it’s chief finding- that economic growth over the past ten years is not significantly improving the lives of the poorest in society- merits serious reflection.
ANZASW believes that Aotearoa New Zealand should have an economy that works for everyone, where increases in prosperity translate into meaningful changes in the lives of those who are struggling to make ends meet. This can only be achieved when the needs of society are taken into equal consideration with the demands of the market.
“This report shows once again that, without state intervention, economic growth does not automatically lift those in greatest need out of poverty,” ANZASW Chief Executive Lucy Sandford-Reed said.
“One of the factors that is surely playing a part in this is the sluggish growth in welfare levels even as the country has been more able to afford more. Alongside this, rising housing costs due to an insufficiently regulated market are eroding the incomes of those in work or on benefits, driving people to turn to groups like the Sallies to get support at record rates,” she added.
“The very fact that the Salvation Army is seeing an increase in demand for food parcels even though there are 20% more jobs than a decade ago and GDP has risen, means that something is very wrong with the way we are practising and measuring economics,” Sandford-Reed continued.
“Employers are as much to blame for this as the government. In practice, when welfare is paid out to working families it is effectively subsidising businesses who refuse to pay a living wage,” she noted.
ANZASW calls for serious reflection on the implications of the report from parties across the political spectrum.