Budget a small step in the right direction but big challenges remain
Caritas today welcomed the government’s increase in welfare benefits to help vulnerable households who are struggling in the post Covid world.
“We had hoped for a genuinely transformative budget. This is not it. We welcome the small step forwards but much more needs to be done to reduce poverty. We would have liked to have seen more support for the working poor - through Working for Families tax credits. That change is required to significantly reduce the poverty rate” said Caritas Director, Julianne Hickey.
Given the very low interest rates the government had an opportunity to make a step change in meeting what is estimated to be a $100billion infrastructure deficit that has accumulated over the last couple of decades. It could have presented a detailed plan for widespread housing construction and investment in genuinely transformative public transport infrastructure development. Again we saw small steps in the right direction but much more is required.
“We warmly welcome the increased investment in Māori and Pasifika housing. However, we would also like to have seen the government’s detailed plan for skills development, retraining, and immigration reform. This is particularly important for groups disproportionately impacted by Covid – women, Māori, Pasifika and young workers. Even when funding is provided, we still need the necessary skilled labour, land and building consents to rapidly deliver house construction on a large scale. That needs to happen as soon as possible. The poor can’t wait” said Julianne Hickey.
Caritas supports the continuing approach to wellbeing which incorporates Māori ways of understanding the world through the He Ara Waiora framework. This provides a uniquely New Zealand framework so necessary to address long-term intergenerational issues in a holistic way. And we acknowledge the influence of founding Caritas Director and academic Associate Professor Mānuka Hēnare in the application of Te Ao Māori to this framework. He was a leader in the contemporary application of traditional Māori concepts to the problems of today.
For more information, please contact Roger Ellis, Engagement Manager, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand. Ph: 021 526 264.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ agency for justice, peace and development, and incorporates Catholic Volunteers Overseas. We are working for a world free of poverty and injustice through community development, advocacy, education, and emergency relief. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 165 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies active in over 200 countries and territories.