Soaring methamphetamine crime, a surging prison population and rents strangling stagnant incomes have marked this year's annual State of the Nation Report.

Despite a rising GDP and more job creation, for many Kiwis life has not improved.

And, after five years of steady demand, the number of families seeking food parcels from The Salvation Army's 65 food banks jumped 12 per cent - the biggest increase since the recession, report author Alan Johnson said.

Released today, the Salvation Army's report Kei a Tatou, It is us monitors New Zealand's social progress in 25 key areas and provides a 10-year analysis of how the country has progressed in bringing social and economic equity to citizens.

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It's not all bad - between 2013 and 2017, the New Zealand economy grew by 14 per cent, the number of jobs grew 15 per cent and per-capita GDP grew 13 per cent in inflation-adjusted terms.

Social policy analyst Alan Johnson, author of the Salvation Army report. Photo / Doug Sherring
Social policy analyst Alan Johnson, author of the Salvation Army report. Photo / Doug Sherring

However average weekly incomes, in inflation-adjusted terms, grew by 6 per cent over this time. There were no substantial change in child poverty rates, and youth unemployment remained around 20 per cent.

Johnson said it was clear strong economic growth had not been shared around.

The impact could be seen in a "frightening" rise in the number of families falling into food poverty, Johnson said.

"That's the true cost of rent rises and slow wage growth on our most vulnerable families," Johnson said.

"New Zealand cannot separate out its poorest people and pretend they don't matter. New Zealand is us – all of us who see ourselves as Kiwi. So when some of us miss out, the responsibility for correcting it belongs to us all."

A long queue outside The Auckland City Mission as Kiwis struggle to afford Christmas last year. Photo / Doug Sherring
A long queue outside The Auckland City Mission as Kiwis struggle to afford Christmas last year. Photo / Doug Sherring

Director of the Social Policy & Parliamentary Unit, Lt. Colonel Ian Hutson urged people to remember the humanity behind the statistics.

"Behind these statistics are people—women, men, children, families and communities - sometimes thriving and in rude health, while on other occasions they are isolated, living with extreme levels of stress, in poverty and highly marginal."

On the plus side the report showed New Zealand is closing educational achievement gaps, increasing participation in early childhood education, reducing infant mortality, teenage pregnancy and youth suicide.

The report found economic growth had not led to fewer children in poverty, or a reduction in the number of young people without meaningful work. And methamphetamine-related offences had grown by 80 per cent in the past three years. However poor public policy decisions by governments has seen the prison population surge to record levels, despite a consistent drop in crime.

Areas requiring more effort included: providing more affordable and social housing, addressing methamphetamine problems, lowering living costs for low-income people, providing young people with jobs and lowering the number of people going and returning to prison.

Superannuation consultant Michael Littlewood and university economist Dr Susan St John. St John is a founder of Child Poverty Action Group. Photo / Richard Robinson
Superannuation consultant Michael Littlewood and university economist Dr Susan St John. St John is a founder of Child Poverty Action Group. Photo / Richard Robinson

Child Poverty Action Group founder and economics professor Susan St John said the families package to come into force in July would take some of the pressure off some families - but it wouldn't get the poorest out of poverty.

She wanted to see the Government extend the $72.50 In-Work Tax Credit to all low-income families, not just those who work 30 hours for a couple and 20 hours for a single. It can be difficult for people to secure consistent work in a world of casualisation, St John said.

"Because we've had such an ongoing problem of family poverty which is not going to be cured overnight it's going to take a long time for families to build their balance sheet.

"At the moment having a child-related payment that depends on the hours of work being achieved every week is inconsistent with the kind of world families are finding themselves in."

Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Ricardo Menendez. Photo / Supplied
Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Ricardo Menendez. Photo / Supplied

Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Ricardo Menéndez said the report highlighted that the people who are creating the wealth are not benefiting. He hoped the working tax group would propose a higher tax on the wealthy to reduce inequality and the Government would build more affordable homes.

"Wage growth is not keeping up with the high cost of rent and a record number of people need food grants as they don't have enough left after bills.

"The Labour Government has its job cut out for them. It's time the Government listened to the people in poverty."

Report in a snapshot

​• ​Per-capita GDP grew 13 per cent in inflation-adjusted terms from $51,700 per person in 2013 to $58,700 in late 2017.
​• ​Over the decade - 2007 to 2017 - the average weekly wage rose 9.6 per cent in inflation-adjusted terms to $1013 per week by the end of 2017.
​• ​Convictions for drug offences have fallen 30 per cent since their peak in 2010.
​• ​In 2008, methamphetamine offences represented just 18 per cent of drug offences but, by 2017, it made up 42 per cent.
​• ​Between 2008 and 2017 the number of methamphetamine offences rose 160 per cent to 4,339.
​• ​The number of adults convicted of offences has fallen 35 per cent since 2010.
​• ​The prison population has grown 30 per cent from 8000 in 2008 to 10,470 at the end of September 2017.
​• ​The pregnancy rate among 15 to 19-year-olds has more than halved from 58 pregnancies per 1000 women in 2007, to 25 per 1000 in 2016
​• ​In 2007, 46 per cent of pregnancies to 15 to 19-year-olds were terminated in abortion, but by 2016 this had fallen to 37 per cent.
​• ​The numbers of people receiving New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension has risen from 519,000 in late 2007 to 749,000 by late 2017.
​• ​This number will continue to grow by 25,000 annually for the next 10 years and could reach 1 million people by 2026.
​• ​The number of people receiving a working-age benefit rose from 265,000 in 2007 to 350,000 in 2010. It fell to 290,000 in 2017 and is forecast to fall back to 2007 levels by 2020.
​• ​In 2007, 22 per cent of children were estimated to be living in households that received an income less than 60 per cent of the median income for similar households. By 2016, this rate had reached 20 per cent.
​• ​In 2007, it took around 9 years of the average wage to purchase the median priced house in Auckland. By 2017, this ratio was over 13 years.