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Government Needs To Do More To Help Out In Recession - Labour

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 10 NZPA - The recession is making it harder for low income earners and the Government should be doing more to help people, Labour says.

New Zealand entered the recession with families already in poverty and the economic conditions have only made things worse, a new report shows.

The inaugural Vulnerability Report by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services said huge numbers of families were living in poverty and the social services sector was already under-resourced when the recession began.

As the economic environment worsened, low and fixed income earners struggled to keep up with increases in the cost of necessities, the report said.

To the year ending March, 211,736 children were living in benefit dependent households, information obtained under the Official Information Act showed.

Children's well-being correlates with their parents' employment and as the number of people on benefits increases "we anticipate growing child poverty in New Zealand".

Family violence was also an issue, with the National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges reporting increased demand for its services.

Labour's social development spokeswoman Annette King said the Government should be doing more to help people who lose their jobs in the recession.

Ms King said it was falling to "churches and women's refuge to pick up the pieces".

The Restart package had done "little" to help people made redundant, she said.

"Families are struggling, children are living in hardship.

"It's time for New Zealand to see some real action from the Government on jobs and assistance."

Social Services Minister Paula Bennett told NZPA New Zealand did not have an official poverty line but had a "pretty generous welfare state" when compared internationally.

"Is it enough for some people? No, but then life on welfare shouldn't be replacing jobs anyway, it should be to cover the bare necessities for those needing temporary assistance."

In terms of a lack of resources in social services, Ms Bennett said at this time last year Winz staff were concentrating more on long-term unemployed.

"Now we have gone back to the basics, which is generating as much employment as we can, making sure people have got the basic skills needed to go into work...and matching people to jobs."

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