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Families’ Basic Needs Not Being Met

16 December 2013

Families’ Basic Needs Not Being Met

“The evidence is in - low income families can no longer provide for even the basics as their weekly incomes falls further behind the rate of inflation”, says Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS). “The 17th Vulnerability Report shows that when looking at the increases over 4 years for rent and energy – the two items that low income families must pay before they buy food – there has been an 11.9% increase in price. The additional 8.1% increase in benefits is obviously inadequate to cover the cost! If a family is on a benefit then they have received a total increase in income over four years of only $20.16 for a couple with 1 or more children or $17.33 for a sole parent.”

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to track inflation. Benefits are increased every April to reflect the CPI increase for the year ending the previous December. This includes inflation on new cars, imports and luxury goods, which have dropped in price, not the basic needs that low income families spend all their money on. While, by the end of September 2013, the general CPI had increased by 8.7% benefits only increased by 8.1%. The strain this places on low income families has resulted in more pressure being piled onto the social service organisations trying to support vulnerable families. This Report shows Christian social service providers are continuing to experience high levels of demand. The need for food parcels continues to grow, as does the demand for both long-term and emergency accommodation, budgeting advice and family counselling.

While there has been some economic good news this is very unevenly spread. Regions like Manawatu/Whanganui, Gisborne/Hawkes Bay and Northland all experienced declines in their economies. Māori, women and Pacific Peoples are over-represented in those without work. Young Māori, in particular, have been hard hit with 28.5% of 20-24 year old Māori women and 17.4% of 20 -24 year old Māori men deemed not in employment, education of training (NEET).

“The impacts of inequality in New Zealand continue to grow”, says McGlinchey. “If you live in the right region, and are from the right demographic you may be beginning to experience some of the much heralded economic recovery. If not you will continue to pay the price of the unequal distribution of wealth that has marked the descent of New Zealand into one of the more unequal countries in the OECD. In the long run both international and local evidence shows this is not good for the wellbeing of our country. NZCCSS urges political parties to develop policies that share New Zealand’s wealth and opportunities more evenly”.

The Vulnerability Report 17 is available at http://www.nzccss.org.nz/uploads/publications/VR17-11.pdf

ENDS

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