22 May 2021

Budget 2021: Benefit increases welcomed but some community groups need more

6:33 pm on 22 May 2021

The government is being accused of dismissing major funding issues for some community organisations that support people experiencing hardship.

A close-up of a man's hand dialing numbers on a landline phone

Non-profit organisations like helplines and family centres desperately need fair funding and fair pay, according to Social Service Providers Aotearoa. Photo: 123RF

Social Service Providers Aotearoa, which represents more than 200 non-governmental organisations (NGO), has welcomed increases to the main benefits in Budget 2021.

It says that will make a difference to whānau in need.

But its chief executive Clare Achmad said non-profit organisations like family centres, counselling services, charitable trusts and helplines, desperately need fair funding and fair pay.

She said they need about $630 million to keep providing help.

They will be asking for that in Budget 2022.

Benefit boost welcomed

A Tauranga social support service describes the boost to benefits as 'like winning Lotto' for those in need.

Beneficiaries will get up to $55 more in their pockets each week, in a two-stage boost to income support payments.

Te Tuinga Whānau Support Services Trust director Tommy Wilson said the news from the Budget this week is cause for celebration for people on welfare - including the homeless.

"Those people don't get to celebrate much and I think more than just the $55, it just gives that korowai of hope to wrap around yourself as a homeless person cause it's been a pretty tough year for these guys too."

Wilson said the benefit increase will not solve the country's social woes, but it is a good start.

Rotorua Budget Advisory Service manager Pakanui Tuhura said the increase in benefits is warranted and will help address inequality.

"The increase in benefits I think is really warranted, the haves and have nots, the gap between them is becoming greater and greater and I think that's common knowledge."

Tuhura believes most beneficiaries will use the money wisely, such as paying off debt or covering the increasing cost of housing.

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