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Govt's welfare group funding cynical, unreliable

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The government's backdown over funding for voluntary welfare umbrella groups is cynical election-year damage control, says Labour social welfare spokesperson Steve Maharey.

Mr Maharey was reacting to the announcement today of a new funding contract between the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Agency and three umbrella groups - the NZ Council of Christian Social Services, NZ Council of Social Services and NZ Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations.

"Nick Smith cut their funding last year out of pure spite, because they dared to criticise government policy. If the government's backdown was due to a real understanding of how useful these groups are, it would be more welcome. But it's clear the voluntary sector can't count on National's support past election day."

"Tagged funding for specific purposes and formal procedures for collaboration with government agencies are obviously meant to make these groups keep their criticism in-house. Public criticism would no doubt be used as an excuse to cut the money off again."

"The 'special study' of the groups' relationship with government is obviously another veiled threat to cancel funding if the groups aren't docile enough."

"Labour's proposal for a formal partnership between government and the voluntary sector has been welcomed. Welfare groups and the public won't be fooled by National's sly game. They know only Labour can be trusted on welfare."

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