12 December 2011
Inquiry into poverty needs to be more than lip service
The Salvation Army welcomes the setting up of a ministerial inquiry on reducing poverty in New Zealand, but hopes ministers will work with the community and explore new solutions to eliminate poverty.
Salvation Army social policy spokesman Major Campbell Roberts says the Maori Party has won an important concession and it is important that the opportunity is not wasted.
Often when faced with poverty, unemployment and reliance on welfare, the response of politicians is to rework old strategies that have previously failed.
Community welfare organisations work with low-income families every day, and often have the ideas and skills that can lift families from poverty, he says.
“There is no doubt that welfare policy needs reform, but to suggest work-based solutions are the total answer when low-paid work often doesn’t provide families with a sufficient income means that more comprehensive solutions are required.”
The Salvation Army’s quarterly poverty monitoring shows poverty is a persistent problem and no current Government policies have had an impact on reducing this, he says.
Major Roberts says the low turnout of voters in low-income electorates at the last election backs-up the anecdotal observations of Salvation Army staff that there is a growing despair and disengagement amongst many low-income families.
Change is possible and the ministerial group on poverty can play an important role in reducing material need and improving social integration in New Zealand, he says.