Budget lacks capital to address affordable housing

June 2016 Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Christian Social Services, the umbrella organisation of churches’ social-service agencies in Aotearoa New Zealand, including Catholic Social Services, say the 2016 Budget response…

June 2016

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Christian Social Services, the umbrella organisation of churches’ social-service agencies in Aotearoa New Zealand, including Catholic Social Services, say the 2016 Budget response to affordable housing is inadequate.

No bricks and mortar in Budget’s new housing spend

Crispin Anderlini, Caritas Aotearoa NZ

Despite Budget 2016 taking small steps to invest in the wellbeing of families and individuals, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand says there is a noticeable lack of investment in building new homes – an important requirement to ensure all families can flourish

‘The Budget does not substantially address key issues and concerns of the vulnerable in our community, in relation to secure and affordable housing, secure and adequate income and a social security system that meets the needs of families and individuals on a benefit,’ says Caritas Director Julianne Hickey.

‘While emergency housing is essential, families need secure and affordable housing in the long term to truly make a difference for future generations. Families and homes go together.’

Of the announced $258 million new spending over four years for housing only $38.7 million is budgeted to be spent in the next financial year ‒ less than five per cent of the $857 million budgeted for a new tax administration system.

Mrs Hickey says new investment to support the most vulnerable children is important, however every child needs a stable roof over their head and a family needs an adequate and stable income in order to flourish.

‘From our recent experiences in supporting families and individuals through the benefit system, we see many struggling to meet their material needs and access their entitlements.’

Caritas appreciates that the safety of workers who administer benefits is important. The $11 million budgeted to increase security of WINZ offices needs also to ensure staff are adequately trained to relate to the vulnerable people they are working with, and to ensure beneficiaries and low-income families receive all the assistance available to them.

‘We welcome additional spending on apprenticeships and trades training. But the real benefits of investing in education and apprenticeships will not be experienced if we do not ensure young people coming out of training find secure and stable employment. Without more substantial changes in the way work is structured for many New Zealanders, education and training may still lead only to casual employment on inadequate incomes.

Christian Social Services disappointed

Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer, NZCSS

After the promising start in last year’s Budget of a $25 a week lift in benefit levels for families with children, this 2016 Budget disappoints in not building this further. We were hoping for a courageous Budget which addressed the underpinning causes of child poverty and the need for social services – this Budget does not make a difference in the levels of inequality and desperate need for those with the least.

Without this courageous approach there remains a very strong need for community-based social services to support families in poverty. Outside of small increases for the likes of Whanau Ora, family violence prevention, prisoner reintegration and the increases for the new system for supporting children in care there is no indication of how the daily support services needed in our communities will get the additional funding they need.

Our social housing provider members tell us they need a capital injection of funding so they can build more houses. The Budget has not provided this capital and thus the additional housing needed within the community housing sector will grow at a slower rate. We will struggle to find long-term social housing for our community members. Many children and their families will continue to live in cars, motels, boarding houses and camping grounds.

While we welcome many of the changes for children in care, for improving home insulation and supporting prisoner reintegration we really need to see a lift in income for beneficiaries and low-wage workers so these families can ensure their children are warm, fed and nurtured. This type of investment will [be more effective] than the Social Investment strategies being proposed.