Debt: a necessity to pay for necessities

Published: Tue 8 Oct 2002 04:53 PM
Debt: a necessity to pay for necessities.
Debt has become a way for people to survive on low-incomes according to the NZ Council of Christian Social in response to issues raised today by the NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services.
A high level of debt amongst foodbanks users has been a consistent finding of the Council’s Poverty Indicator Project, which surveys several foodbank sites every quarter.
‘Our research reveals that many low income families do not have enough income to consistently pay for their necessities. People make choices -go hungry, don’t pay the bills or go into debt. Some do all three’, said Adrian Whale, NZCCSS Executive Officer.
The latest results from the Poverty Indicator Project showed that half of the households at most foodbanks have less than $45 a week to spend on everything else once housing and basic food costs are paid for.
‘It is very difficult to budget on this amount of income. It is not surprising then to find that up to two-thirds of a foodbank’s clients are in debt to the Department of Work and Income.
‘This lack of income to pay for necessities is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed’, concluded Adrian Whale
The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) represents the social services of the Anglican, Baptist, Catholic and Presbyterian Churches as well as the Methodist Church and the Salvation Army. Collectively, our members have around 550 social service delivery sites across the country.
The Poverty Indicator Project has been running in this format since the beginning of 2001. Four previous quarterly reports have been produced.
The Project focuses on key results about housing, income, employment and debt. The information has been provided by clients who have gone to seven foodbanks – one each in Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Palmerston North, Hamilton, and Manukau City. Local foodbank contacts are available from Adrian.
Note that this is only an indication of poverty in two ways: it only measures result from a small sub-set of the total number of foodbanks in NZ (approx. 380) and those coming to foodbanks are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of those experiencing some form of poverty. They are the ones who have the courage and/or are desperate enough to ask for food – usually after exhausting or being refused other forms of help.

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