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Budgeting services overwhelmed as working families seek help

Budgeting services overwhelmed as working families seek help

The quadrupling of demand for food parcels and advice at a South Auckland budget advisory service is in line with figures from around New Zealand, Labour Deputy Leader Annette King says.

"Mangere Budgeting Service is funded to see 306 families a year but this year more than 1200 families have sought budgeting support, another 539 needed help with food parcels around 180 families were desperate to find housing," Annette King said.

"Agencies are saying it is increasingly working families who are seeking help because their wages are falling behind and they are struggling to feed their kids and pay their bills. In Mangere, about 40 per cent of families seeking help are working families.

"I challenge John Key and his National government to tell these families they have a brighter future.

"The picture is the same in other parts of the country:

* Rodney-Hibiscus Coast Youth Community Trust says demand for food parcels has gone up by 30%;
* Marlborough Community food bank says the number of people being fed by the Blenheim-based food bank had increased by about 20 per cent in the past year;
* Picton food bank says it doubled the number of parcels in August, 2011, compared to the same time last year;
* Otago University Students' Association says there has been a 64% increase in student demand for foodbank services compared with 2010;
* The Auckland City Mission said their food parcel statistics were at a record high;
* The Salvation Army says it gave about 35,000 food parcels in the first six months of the year, compared to 53,000 for the whole of last year.

"For two years I have been telling John Key and his government that increasing numbers of families cannot cope.

"His response is to dismiss any bad news and tell New Zealand his actions have 'blunted the sharp edges of the recession'.

"He is ignoring what is happening on the ground. He gave billions of dollars of tax cuts to the already well-off and left low and middle income Kiwis with higher bills and less ability to pay them.

"Labour has the policies and the commitment to make a real difference to working families in the short term as well as further afield."

"Labour will:

* Lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour;

* Make the first $5000 income a year tax free;

* Reduce the cost of fresh fruit and vegesby15%;

* Make doctors visits free 24x7 for under 6s;

* Focus on children by increasing support for parents.

Authorised by Annette King, MPs, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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