Govt aid not worth effort: Sallies

By Mike Dinsdale


Whangarei's Salvation Army won't apply for any extra Government funding to save its budgeting service, saying the amount on offer is "just a drop in the bucket" and not worth asking for.

The Salvation Army said at the start of the month its Whangarei budgeting service would cease, despite a huge increase in demand, because a Government grant under the Community Response Fund (CRF) was ending.

But this week the Government said it would inject more money into organisations providing budgeting advice and support.

"In recognition of the good work budgeting services do to help people manage their income, an extra $1.5 million has been allocated for 2013/14," Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said.

The funding was on top of $8.9 million provided in 2012/13 and would relieve pressure on the sector in the short term, Ms Bennett said. It would be followed by a strategic review of the funding model for budgeting services in late 2013. The Government contracts with 152 budgeting services nationally.

"It is time for a review of the funding model for budgeting services, but in the meantime $1.5 million will relieve some of the pressures," Mrs Bennett said.

Applications for the extra funding open on Monday and close May 24.

Whangarei Salvation Army Community Ministries director Pete Mullenger said yesterday it would not bother applying for any of the extra funding.

"With 152 budgeting services, that works out at roughly $9868 each. It's just a drop in the bucket of what's needed to run the budgeting service," he said.

"Last year we got a total of around $90,000 from the CRF to run the service, so $9868 will have very little effect. Therefore, we will not be applying for the funding because it's just not worth it."

He said it seemed the Government had its priorities wrong.

"The Government spent nearly $2 million on a plastic waka for the Rugby World Cup, but can only throw $1.5 million for budgeting services that directly help struggling New Zealanders," Mr Mullenger said.

"The Government requires beneficiaries have to get budgeting advice [after getting three or more hardship grants in a year] but is only offering $1.5 million between 152 budgeting services to help those people; $10,000 will be a big help for some of those services, but it doesn't help us."

Ms Bennett said it was essential those on low incomes had the budgeting skills to avoid getting into debt.


- Northern Advocate

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