The Government has remembered and prioritised some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people even in the midst of difficult times caused by inflation and natural disasters, says Presbyterian Support Northern (PSN) CEO Bonnie Robinson.
PSN is one of New Zealand’s largest social services providers, delivering support to Kiwis from birth to senior living for more than 130 years via Family Works, Lifeline, Enliven and Shine.
“Extending childcare will make a big difference for families with young children. But for others, it will only mean an immediate difference of $10 to $15 a week due to savings on prescription costs and transport.
“Many of the initiatives will kick in over time, so I doubt we’ll see an immediate, dramatic decrease in the number of food parcels we’re handing out to people in crisis.”
For young families, Bonnie Robinson says extending free childcare will make a tangible difference to children.
“Preschools are hugely important in child development. We’re seeing new entrants turning up to school with next to no social skills due the last three years of COVID-19 and not being able to experience much pre-school education or socialisation. We are also seeing an increase in language development delays, particularly in the two-year-old age group, and having free preschool for this age group will be hugely beneficial.
PSN is pleased to see prescription costs gone.
“For many people living in poverty, even $5 for a prescription creates a hole in their budget,” Bonnie Robinson says.
“For families lucky enough to have a rental, the cost of living sees very little left over after paying the rent, the utilities, doctor, petrol, school uniforms and fees.
“For these families, not having to pay for transport to send kids to school on the bus will also make a difference.”
She also welcomes a focus on food security. “Food is often the only place to save money, because so much day to day spending is fixed.”
PSN welcomes more funding for budgeting and financial services. “This will help our budgeting services focus on helping people out of debt, and out of the trap of being dependent on food banks.”
Bonnie Robinson also welcomes the announcement of extra badly-needed public housing units, saying it will play a key role in keeping kids in school.
“Housing stability and warmth, particularly coming up to winter, plays a critical role in child health, stability and important engagement with education,” Bonnie Robinson says.
“All of these initiatives are great, but the problem is that the urgent need is right now. We look forward to the Government showing us how we can speed up delivery of support to our most vulnerable people.”