28 May 2009
The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) is disappointed that this Budget has not addressed the needs of the many children who have to live on government benefits. Additional funding going towards supporting older people through improved aged care facilities and increases in respite care is welcomed. The commitment to future funding for critical family related social services is positive and additional educational support for children who have special needs is also promising. However, the Council is concerned for the many children who are being brought up in homes dependant on benefits. We will be talking to the government about addressing long term investment in New Zealand’s future via these children.
“As the number of families who are dependant on benefits rise, the proportion of New Zealand’s children who live in poverty becomes even higher.” said Shaun Robinson, NZCCSS President, “we know that living in poverty increases the risk of poor health, educational and social outcomes for our kids. It’s not roads that will secure New Zealand’s future it is our children”.
“Benefits don’t cover the costs of supporting families, particularly families with children”, said NZCCSS Vice President, Ruby Duncan. “The Council is extremely concerned that the recession is impacting harder on Maori and on Pasifika families. Statistically these groups represent high numbers of young families, with low levels of assets and resources to fall back on. The long term impacts for them will affect us all as a society”.
The March Quarter 2009 statistics show the number of working aged people receiving a main benefit increased by 33% in the last year. Of the 289,000 people on benefits, almost 58,000 are responsible for caring for children under 6 years of age. Over 17% of New Zealand’s young people (aged 15-19 years) are unemployed. “We appreciate the efforts to ensure as many people as possible are kept in employment”, said Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer NZCCSS, “but government must also address the needs of those who are living on a benefit. Once again it is our children and young people who are shouldering too much of the burden of our economic troubles”.