NZCCSS Says Budget Benefit Increases Are Encouraging
NZCCCSS welcomes the direction the Government is signalling through main benefit increases funded in the Wellbeing Budget 2021 announced on Thursday 20 May.
“Budget 2021 is a hopeful step in the direction that our sector has long been asking for,” says Executive Officer Nikki Hurst.
Nikki says that the increases in main benefits - the first rolling out from 1 July 2021- within the context of a 'recovery' budget aimed at maintaining debt levels, are an encouraging sign.
“It shows that this Government has been listening.”
Nikki believes that some of the ‘smaller’ items included in this year’s budget should also be an encouragement to the social services sector.
“Initiatives such as the reinstatement of the Training Incentive Allowance offers an added step out of poverty through retraining to gain access to better employment opportunities.
“The extension of the mental health pilot Mana Ake will see primary and intermediate students from five more areas around the country benefit from the programme.
“And we’re pleased to see the standardisation of caregiver payments both inside and outside the State sector, and that payments better reflect the costs of caring for tamariki.”
NZCSS will be watching other areas with interest. “While the funding being made available to close the pay gap between Government and NGO-employed social workers sound great, not closing the gap for all workers within social service providers could create a very real impact on equity within our services,” says Nikki.
“Budget 2021 held little for people in the Older Persons space, yet we know that there are some very real looming issues. We’d also like to have seen more made available for people with disabilities.”
“That said, what is included in this Budget does give us hope that this is merely the start in the journey towards equity and a more just and compassionate society in Aotearoa.”