Social agencies discuss Budget effects

IMG 6739 234x300 - Social agencies discuss Budget effects IMG 3493 200x300 - Social agencies discuss Budget effects IMG 3492 200x300 - Social agencies discuss Budget effectsOnly a small percentage of children will be lifted out of poverty over the next three years by Budget announcements last week, Tauranga social agencies heard today.

About 40 members of social agencies gathered to discuss the effects of the Budget announcements on child poverty. The breakfast meeting was organised by the local Western Bay Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

Speaker Janet McAllister from CPAG said the announcements last week looked like three genres of movies – a wanna-be blockbuster, an unexpected romance and a creeping horror.

She said one in five children are living in food insecurity in New Zealand, and this figure was higher among Māori and Pasifika.

“There are whole communities living under this stress.”

The solutions were liveable incomes, a system of manaakitanga (support), removing counter-productive sanctions on beneficiaries, debt scrapping, acknowledging the extra expenses of disability and having a realistic understanding of “relationships”.

“There has been little movement in all of these things, other than income,” she said.

In Tauranga, many had been living $218 a week below the poverty line, which led to more foodbank use and overcrowding. The income support would still mean there were families living $100 a week below where they should be.

“Treasury predicts that the poverty rate will reduce from 18.4 percent to 17 percent over three years with this Budget. That means there will be 190,000 still living in poverty.

“This is not okay. We need to put more resources into this. We are addressing housing issues because post housing costs are the issue.”

MP Angie Warren Clark said there is a sense that people on benefits were “not worthy” when social agencies knew that was not the case.

“We are trying to bring back a level of dignity.”

As chair of the Social Services Select Committee she urged the attendees to make submissions on the need to increase income support and identify other needed changes.

“Food insecurity is a massive problem in this country. We’re doing something wrong when we also waste 40 percent of our food. We have so much more work to do.”

Tommy Wilson, Chief Imagination Officer for Te Tuinga Whānau, said disconnection was the biggest issue and the answers were in the community.

“We have got to get resources to the front line but we have never had a cent from Whānau Ora or Corrections.”

He said 90 percent of his clients were Māori and 70 percent of those were not from Tauranga moana, and in most cases are disconnected from their iwi, hapū and marae.

“P is the problem. Don’t use ‘colonisation’ as an excuse. People want somewhere warm to live and kai in their puku. We as Māori have to engage and we have to take ownership of our own backyard.

“We can’t rely on government throwing the lollies around. There are people who don’t accept help so we help those wanting help, most commonly the working poor and single, working parents.. You have to get strategic about where you direct your kindness.”