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19 Feb 2018 9:19
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  •   Home > News > Business

    NZ's poorest getting left behind: report

    New Zealand's poorest are getting left behind as the cost of living continues to soar, leaving many people food-bank-dependent, a Salvation Army report says.


    Strong economic and job growth has failed to provide for all New Zealanders, the Salvation Army says.

    Its 10th annual State of the Nation report, released on Wednesday, says the number of food parcels it provided to families has increased by 12 per cent - the biggest increase since the Global Financial Crisis.

    The high cost of housing and slow wage growth are behind the increase in food bank access, social policy analyst Alan Johnson says.

    Housing costs have been a major factor in poverty as house prices rise and rents across New Zealand rose by 15 to 20 per cent in the last four years.

    "New Zealand cannot separate out its poorest people and pretend they don't matter. New Zealand is us - all of us who see ourselves as Kiwi," Mr Johnson said.

    "So when some of us miss out, the responsibility for correcting it belong to us all."

    Youth offending and teen pregnancy had reduced, and NCEA pass rates increased, but youth unemployment was at 20 per cent and youth suicide rates remain persistently high.

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government was "not prepared to tolerate" the figures and was already moving to close the gap with its Families Package.

    "The report clearly shows the impact of nine of years of neglect and lack of social investment for the most vulnerable Kiwis," she said.

    But National's social development spokeswoman, Louise Upston, said the report showed a large number of economic and social gains had been made over the last government's term.

    "[The] report acknowledges those improvements - particularly in the areas of job creation, income growth, declining benefits and lifting children out of material deprivation," she said.

    "Perhaps most notably though, since 2010 we reduced the number of children living in material hardship by 135,000."

    Green Party welfare spokeswoman Jan Logie said the report showed there was an urgent need to reform the welfare system.

    "When people can't afford to put a roof over their family's head and food on the table, then we know there's a serious problem with a system that's supposed to support those who need it the most."

    SALVATION ARMY NUMBERS:

    * 63,000 food parcels delivered - up 12 per cent

    * Prison population last year was 10,470, or 210 per 100,000 people, up from 184 in the last decade

    * Youth unemployment remains at 20 per cent

    * Methamphetamine offences rose 160 per cent to 4339 in 10 years

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity


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