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Low Income Families Continue To Pay For Economic Recovery

27 July 2012

Low Income Families Continue To Pay For Economic Recovery

“The slow economic recovery is really hurting many low income New Zealand families”, said New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) Executive Officer, Trevor McGlinchey. “We have been collecting and comparing data and information for the last 3 years and it is very clear that low income families, particularly whānau Māori and Pasifika families, are bearing the brunt of New Zealand’s drive to reduce the national deficit”. The Vulnerability Report shows while the median income for all New Zealanders has grown since 2008, for Māori the median income has actually dropped.

NZCCSS has just published its 13th Vulnerability Report. This well respected report now contains 3 years’ worth of data. It looks at issues such as unemployment levels and beneficiary numbers, access to hardship grants and allowances, food bank usage, demand for family counselling, the level of reported family violence along with access to affordable housing and other basic needs. These reports show that after 2 years of strong growth in such basic areas as need for food parcels, emergency accommodation and budgeting advice we have reached a plateau of demand for some of these services.

“Churches and community social service agencies report that the demand for help remains very high, although in some regions there has been a slight drop in the need for additional budgeting services and food parcels”, said McGlinchey. “It is good to see that the additional level of services provided over the last few years have helped some families address their immediate needs, however, we have reached a ‘new normal’ level rather than seen any significant change for the better in the wellbeing of low income and beneficiary families”.

“After three years of struggling to feed their families and pay their bills low income families are now seeking family counselling and support for family stress in increasing numbers”, said McGlinchey. “Social service agencies are struggling to meet the demand and some have long waiting lists of families that need support”.

“The hardening attitudes of government agencies to those needing support has also had an impact”, said McGlinchey. “Our members are reporting their clients need more advocacy to ensure they get their proper level of benefit support. Housing New Zealand is becoming more difficult to deal with and the demand for emergency housing is growing exponentially”.

“The new ways that government is working with social support organisations and with community based social housing may pay dividends in the long run”, said NZCCSS President, Rod Watts. “However, many low income New Zealand families need support now. We require some clear indication from government on how these current and pressing concerns are going to be met now rather than at some future point”.

Vulnerability Reports will only be published on-line with printable versions downloadable from http://www.nzccss.org.nz/uploads/publications/VR13%20final.pdf.

ENDS

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