Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Minister defends beneficiary aid service funding

Kaz Keys (left) and Karen Pattie are worried about the future of their  beneficiaries advice  service. Photo / Natalie Slade
Kaz Keys (left) and Karen Pattie are worried about the future of their beneficiaries advice service. Photo / Natalie Slade

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says Glenfield's Beneficiaries Advocacy and Information Service is still getting a bigger Government subsidy than it got under Labour, even though it has lost another $50,000 grant.

The organisation said yesterday it could be forced to close within three weeks following a funding "cut'' from the Government.

Mrs Bennett said the $50,000, which the service claimed it no longer receives from her ministry, was a grant under the Community Response Fund, set up in 2009 to help NGOs during the global financial crisis. That fund expired last year.

The service, which provides independent information and advocacy to beneficiaries and low-income people, said it could no longer function without the funding and could close within three weeks.

Mrs Bennett said the organisation had received $29,200 annually since 2009 through the citizens support fund, meant for groups advocating for beneficiaries, and more than $135,880 in one-off grants through the response fund.

"The service recently met with the ministry and has been advised about further funding options available to them,'' she said.

But service manager Karen Pattie said she was told there was no money available, and had received an email from a ministry Family and Community Services regional funding advisor stating: "We also do not fund advocacy services''.

Ms Pattie said the service, which employs one full-time staff member and another part-time, cannot operate with a funding of just $29,200.

"That was the reason why we were granted the $50,000 through the response fund,'' she said.

"Without it, we will just not be able to carry on.''

A spokeswoman for Mrs Bennett said the service receives funding from the citizens support fund, which comes from Work and Income, and not Family and Community Services.

The ministry said $244,000 had been paid to 10 advocacy services around New Zealand, and was working with groups to allocate the remaining $48,000.

- NZ Herald

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