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Agencies Praise Govt But Labour Says They'll Soon Be Begging

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Paula Bennett
Paula Bennett

Wellington, May 20 NZPA - Voluntary organisations have welcomed the Government's handout to help them through the recession but the Labour Party says they will soon have to beg for more.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today there would be a $40 million Community Response Fund in next week's budget for voluntary social service agencies.

It would be paid out next year while the Government "reshaped" future funding.

Ms Bennett said the fund would operate for two years.

She said funding promised by the previous government would be retained but she was not specific about how it would be used.

Barnados, the Council of Christian Social Services and Relationship Services welcomed the announcement and said it would provide help for poor and vulnerable people.

But Labour's social development spokeswoman, Annette King, said Ms Bennett had confirmed the previous government's commitment to fully fund the sector by 2011 with $461m was under review.

"The minister has instead offered a one-off $40 million a year cash injection for this year and probably next year -- and made it clear there is no guarantee of any additional funding whatsoever after that," she said.

"This is appalling will force agencies working at the front line to get out their begging bowls."

Ms Bennett said social service agencies were under pressure because of the recession and at the same time funding sources were shrinking.

"This is short-term crisis funding. It's not a permanent top-up," Ms Bennett said.

"This fund will be targeted at those groups facing increased demand for services, or severe financial difficulty due to the recession."

Regional panels with community representation would approve applications.

"Different communities will have different needs and we want to support them through these tough times," Ms Bennett said.


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