The country's biggest professional counselling group has rubbished claims its funding shortfall is due to "lack of responsible management".

Relationships Aotearoa said Social Development Minister Anne Tolley was wrong to claim the organisation was under-performing.

Relationships Aotearoa had 120 staff and about 7000 clients at any given time. It told the Government it would have to shut down without a funding boost.

The organisation said its funding was consistently cut since "the wholesale removal of Family Court funded couples counselling" last year.


"Despite this the agency has managed to continue providing low-cost counselling to couples and those in need, and the recent suggestion that the losses represent a lack of responsible management, as opposed to a lack of funding, is contested," the organisation said this afternoon.

The organisation said the cuts to Family Court funding were a major loss of access to help for couples and families struggling to avoid separation or divorce.

"Unfortunately it seems that this is a further attempt by this National Government to reduce funding, and responsibility for providing counselling and psychotherapy services to New Zealanders in need," said Kyle MacDonald, New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists spokesman.

"It seems cynical to me to suggest that such a well-established and well-respected agency such as Relationships Aotearoa is badly run when it has had most of its major funding streams reduced as a direct result of policy changes of this National Government," Mr MacDonald said.

Ms Tolley earlier said Relationships Aotearoa was running at a deficit, and the Government could not keep propping it up.

"They've got to be able to meet their service contracts and they've got to be able to live within their budget. That's just a fact of life," she said earlier.

"How much longer do we go on supporting them when they're delivering less than we're paying them for and we're having to underwrite them?"

Finance Minister Bill English said this morning it was unlikely Government would bail the organisation out and there were other agencies that could pick up its work.