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Budget 2020: Services For People In Hardship But No Structural Change

“The new funding to provide services to those who are severely affected by the economic downturn will be a great help to those who suffer Covid-19 related hardship”, says Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer for the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS). 

“The additional funding for a wide range of supports is welcomed by social service organisations. This funding will help them step up to provide the support families, whānau and communities need.”

Prior to the Budget, NZCCSS called for structural change to the benefit system so that those who need welfare receive enough income to meet their basic needs. This would reduce the overall demand for crisis support and social services.

“NZCCSS is disappointed that the structural change that is needed in the welfare system has not been implemented. The Budget has maintained the benefit status quo, with only small increases in income. As a result of this lack of change many more New Zealanders will be impacted by poverty and hardship”, said McGlinchey. “If the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s recommendations had been implemented whānau would need less support as they would be self-sufficient and more able to engage positively with their communities.”

With the coming waves of unemployment and hardship the need for a strong, capable community and social services sector has never been more apparent. The lack of government financial support for the sector over many years has negatively affected the ‘social infrastructure’ the sector provides. An ongoing process for increasing funding and building up sector capability is required to ensure community and social service organisations are well positioned to meet the increasing needs.

“While this Budget delivered significant additional funding into areas such as family violence services, food rescue, foodbanks, rural communities and public housing only a small amount of funding was provided to support organisations to address current and historic cost pressures”, said McGlinchey. “During the Covid-19 lockdown the sector responded with innovation, determination and compassion to meet community needs. To do this over what will be a long recovery period the Government needs to make additional investments to support social service organisations.”

With the Government holding back significant funding for an ongoing response to the coronavirus, NZCCSS calls for additional funding to be made available quickly to ensure New Zealanders can access the supports they need.

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