The Auckland Catholic Diocese Commission for Justice and Peace believes it is the responsibility of Government to foster the common good and support the poorest & most vulnerable in society rather than just building a more productive and competitive economy to the possible detriment of the wider community.
Budget 2018 takes some measures to reset the country’s direction in this regard.
Housing the Homeless
It is encouraging that today’s Budget provides the resources for Housing NZ to better maintain existing housing stock and increase it by up to 1600 more State houses per year to provide for those in greatest need. The decision to provide $100m for more emergency housing will provide immediate assistance to help mitigate the effects of an escalating homelessness crisis while more long-term measures are put in place.
Caring for Families
We welcome the boost in funding to special education, the $490m increase in provision for early childhood education and $76m for family violence programmes. It is also encouraging to see funding provided to establish a program of Government targets through the new agencies attached to the Prime Minister’s Department to start to eliminate child poverty.
The increase in funding of $10.5m for mental health programmes for young people is welcomed. We are encouraged by the Government’s intention to provide the structural support to create good jobs with decent wages and conditions. But we would have liked the Budget to have made an explicit commitment to pay the Living wage to all state employees and ensure all their contractors do likewise.
We are disappointed that the Budget makes no provision to lift the base rate for Social Welfare assistance for those families struggling to make ends meet. There continues to be a need for a Social Welfare Advocacy Service established on the lines of the very successful Health and Disability Commission.
Investing in Prisoner Rehabilitation
The introduction of financial support to rehabilitate ex-prisoners back into society will help reduce recidivism rates and reduce the need to build more prisons. We look forward to further support being provided for the Department of Corrections to create a coherent, integrated and well-funded long-term strategy to improve prisoner health and literacy.
Protecting our Environment
We welcome the boost to Conservation funding, the introduction of incentives for sustainable land use and the provision to insulate more houses. It would have been useful if the budget had provided more robust assistance to protect our waterways from the pollution that can cause major health problems in our communities.
For further comment contact Peter Garrick (09) 360 3037, 022 1300 730.