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Papers underline poverty containment challenges

Hon Paula Bennett Minister for Social Development and Employment Minister for Disability Issues Minister for Youth Affairs

9 December 2008

Papers underline poverty containment challenges

Social Development briefing papers show that a small group has remained stuck in a cycle of social deprivation despite the recent good economic times, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today.

A strong theme in the papers released today is that the improvements in living standards enjoyed by most New Zealanders over the past 15 years have not reached a small number of highly vulnerable families.

"People in this group are often poor, unemployed, in bad health, and subject to family violence," Ms Bennett said.

"The fact that a substantial group of deprived New Zealanders has continued throughout a decade of relative prosperity underlines the challenges we face in stopping that group from growing much larger, with harder times looming.

"I want to make sure the Ministry of Social Development is focused on its core responsibilities in the years ahead, in particular those families stuck in long-term poverty. I don't underestimate the challenges associated with this, but I intend to make it a priority.

"I'm convinced that early intervention is an important part of the answer. I note with concern a comment in the papers that no single government agency has clear accountability for good parenting. Getting alongside new parents who may be struggling to cope will clearly reap benefits in future, for the families involved and society as a whole," Ms Bennett said.

The economic challenges ahead meant that Social Development, like all government agencies, would have to be run as efficiently as possible.

"I was pleased to read of the department's aim for a 5 percent overall reduction in staff numbers over the next four years. I aim to hold the department to that target, and to look for other efficiencies where possible," Ms Bennett said.


URL links to the 10 Social Development Briefing papers follow: f Briefing.pdf f

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