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The “Funding Gap” Affecting Vulnerable People

New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services Media Release

Monday 2 September 2019

The “Funding Gap” Affecting Vulnerable People

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) welcomes the balanced and objective Martin Jenkins report on the funding of community social services. This report, “The Funding Gap and How to Bridge It” commissioned by Social Services Providers Aotearoa (SSPA) and philanthropic organisations, has identified community social services are underfunded by approximately $630million a year.

This structural underfunding means that people, particularly those in vulnerable communities, struggle to receive the amount of services they require to achieve and maintain wellbeing. Underfunding of community-based social services is not a new phenomenon – it has been occurring for many years. This lack of funding for wages, for the complexity of needs that have emerged in our communities, and overheads for service providers all contribute to the $630million shortfall.

“Our members have been reporting to us the continuing issues they have been experiencing with underfunding for many years,” said Trevor McGlinchey, NZCCSS Executive Officer. “This underfunding is occurring at the same time as our members experience an increasing level complexity of need and a rise in the demand for services. It is significant this report has been able to identify and place a cost on these complexities and demands”.

NZCCSS notes that the cost of bringing community-based workers up to a fair level of pay, at approximately $300million per year, is the most significant aspect of the underfunding.

McGlinchey says, “Workers in community-based social services apply their expertise in very difficult circumstances, working with families and whānau who voluntarily engage with them even when it means revealing the depth of their needs. The skills and abilities of community social services workers are of the highest order and deserve to be recognized with appropriate remuneration”.

NZCCSS joins together with its members and with SSPA to support the implementation of the 39 recommendations in this report. The immediate recommendations must be included as part of the 2020 Budget process. We urge the government to plan to put in place the longer-term recommendations and structural changes included in the Report. This will ensure in the future community delivered services are not undervalued and vulnerable communities receive the support they need.

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