Solutions to struggle with school costs 'in communities'

By Harrison Christian

Anna Lorck
Anna Lorck

There is only so much the Government can do to assist low-income families with schooling costs, Tukituki National MP and Commerce Minister Craig Foss says.

While the Government is investing more in education than it ever has in the past, "there's a limit to what the Government can do at the end of the day".

It could, however, combat general affordability issues by fostering higher-paying jobs in the region.

Policies announced in this years' Budget, such as free healthcare for children under 13, would also help to reduce household costs.

Children's Commissioner and Hawke's Bay paediatrician Dr Russell Wills said there was "no quick solution" for families struggling to cover schooling costs.

"Solutions lie in communities rather than the Government. Obviously there's a place for policy.

"It's important the Government is improving housing affordability. But before changes in social housing really bite, it's up to communities."

Increasingly, businesses were providing equipment, such as sporting equipment, directly to schools, Dr Wills said.

"While it's really tough on families, it's an opportunity for businesses or philanthropists to make a real difference in children's lives.

"Communities are partnering with schools, businesses and NGOs ... All around the country, we've got communities stepping up."

However, Tukituki Labour candidate Anna Lorck said communities were already stretched.

"They [communities] are doing the best they can, but until we have an active Government that is in touch with child poverty, we won't see change.

"I think our community works really hard now ... The Government is out of touch."

To make schooling costs more manageable, Ms Lorck was calling for higher-paying jobs and a reduction in the cost of housing. "Bringing down the cost of housing, that's what Labour's very focused on.

Ms Lorck also said jobs were "the biggest thing holding our region back".

"Until we can get better-paying jobs we'll continue to see this inequality gap getting wider."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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