Growing gap between rich and poor alarms charities

Charities say they have watched with concern as the gap between rich and poor grew over the past few years with no solution in sight.

Wellingtonian of the Year and former City Missioner Father Des Britten said there was no doubt things were getting worse.

Unfortunately in today’s world it was up to each person to pull themselves out of a bad situation, he said.

Father Britten had been in the unique position of serving up food to both Wellington’s wealthy, when he owned top restaurant The Coachman, and to those down on their luck while at the Wellington City Mission.

“It is up to individual responsibility and at the mission we tried to help people to help themselves because you’re never going to be happy living on a benefit.”

City Missioner Susan Blaikie said she had previously worked in the corporate world where beneficiaries were seen as bludgers.

“But I don’t know anyone that actually wants to be on a benefit. The bigger the gap is between the richest and the poorest, the more likely there will be social problems and crime.”

The Reverend Blaikie had spent the last decade working with the church and said the issue was worse today than ever before.

She was concerned that no major party had produced a serious policy this close to the election.

The Salvation Army’s social services spokesman, Major Campbell Roberts, said he had seen the gap grow over his 40 years there and in recent times more people were worse off.

“Even over the last two years there has been a significant increase in people coming for welfare services. At the same time you’ve got salaries at a level which have increased significantly.

“This is most probably a reasonably recent thing over the past 15 to 20 years.”

People who had a long history of working and contributing to society were losing their jobs and more families were struggling for the basics.

At the Catholic charity St Vincent de Paul, national council chief executive Anne-Marie McCarten said more government agencies were referring people to charities. Read more


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