Report highlights New Zealand’s most vulnerable
Yesterday’s launch of New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) fourth Vulnerability Report shows New Zealanders are significantly worse-off than they were a year ago.
Members of ComVoices, an independent network of Tangata Whenua, and community and voluntary sector organisations say that the report demonstrates that our most vulnerable citizens are still feeling the impact of the recession despite some early economic indications that the worst is over.
Robyn Scott, Executive Director of Philanthropy New Zealand says, “The number of benefit dependent children has increased from 199,108 in June 2008 to 230,642 in December 2009, unemployment rates are up, along with food costs and families and communities need support now more than ever.”
The Vulnerability Report shows that recession impacts are hitting youth, Maori and Pacific peoples and benefit-dependent households the hardest.
These households are the ones needing the most tax relief and are the least likely to get it because such a high percentage of their income has to be spent on products that carry Goods and Services Tax.
Ros Rice, Executive Officer of the New Zealand Council of Social Services (NZCOSS) says, “This report reiterates to us that the Government’s plans to offset any increase in GST for those on low incomes needs to also consider how the inequalities of the current tax system will be addressed.”
The group acknowledges the commitment of the Government to ensuring superannuitants are better-off in upcoming tax changes, through increases to pensions, but say this commitment needs to be made to low-income people and families as well.
Dave Henderson, Coordinator of ANGOA says, “This has to be more than just looking for an income increase of 2.5% to compensate for an increase in GST to 15%. It has to be a question of how the tax system needs to be changed to make sure it decreases the level of poverty in our communities.”
Wendi Wicks, National Policy Researcher at the Disabled People’s Assembly (DPA) says, “The Vulnerability Report proves that there are a lot of New Zealanders who cannot absorb any cost of living increases at this time.
“The youth unemployment is a staggering 23 percent; unemployment for Maori aged between 15-24 years is nearly 26 percent. These rates coupled with increases in the cost of basics like bread and milk mean there are not a lot of options for people, regardless of their motivation,” Wendi says.
Michael Woodcock, Acting Executive Director of the New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations (NZFVWO) says, “Daily, organisations within the ComVoices and NZCOCSS groups see the kind of hardships some New Zealanders face.
“The Vulnerability Report puts this into evidence and proves that without the network of non-government social services operating throughout New Zealand the country’s families could be a lot worse off.”
The group congratulated NZCOCSS for their continuing work to produce the Vulnerability Report, which shows a contemporary, statistics-based view of New Zealand’s most vulnerable citizens.
The Vulnerability Report will be published online with printable versions available from the www.justiceandcompassion.org.nz website.