Shrinking resources to meet soaring demand

A new report from the NZ Council of Christian Social Services, NZCCSS, says there is a soaring demand being made on social service organisations.

At the same time government support has shrunk, particularly in the form of food grants.

Executive officer Trevor McGlinchey said social service organisations were under huge financial stress.

But government funding has stayed largely static for the last eight years.

More people use food banks but grants of food decreased

The NZCCSS report shows the provision of food bank services and meals by NZCCSS’ member agencies becoming a ‘normal’ part of how many people coped when income levels are too low.

More and more people were relying on food parcels from community food banks. Yet Work and Income’s special needs grants for food decreased by 28 percent between December 2009 to December 2015.

Housing NZ waiting list dropped 10,000 while homelessness increased

The report also found that in the same period, Housing New Zealand waiting lists dropped from over 10,000 to 3500.

At the same time overcrowding and homelessness increased, and emergency housing providers were being swamped with people asking for help.

McClinchey said the Government has relied too heavily on the response of community organisations, charities and service providers to meet the needs.

Government response

A spokesman for the Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said food grants peaked in 2010 at the height of the global financial crisis.

They were now at “similar levels” to 2011. While the number of applications had declined, the percentage granted had increased, he said.

No evidence taxpayer money is effectively helping the needy

The spokesperson said that the government invests over $330 million of taxpayer money in the social services sector – and there is little evidence it is effective in helping vulnerable people.

So the department is revamping the system through the community investment strategy so that it makes a real difference for those who need support the most.

The spokesperson said Budget 2016 invested

  • an additional $347 million as part of the overhaul of care and protection for vulnerable young people
  • $46 million for a new nationwide system to support victims of sexual abuse system,
  •  $790 million child material hardship package in Budget 2015 represented the first rise in benefits for 43 years.”



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