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Time to invest in social infrastructure

brenda-pilott-small-72dpiBrenda Pilott

National Manager | Social Service Providers Aotearoa

I wouldn’t want to be Grant Robertson right now.  As Minister of Finance he must have a mountain of decisions in front of him about what to prioritise with funding in this year’s Budget.  And I imagine most of the proposals have merit and all are important to some sector of our society.  Election year budgets always carry some extra pressure and take on a more political flavour, as they are part of the sales pitch for the incumbent parties to take to the electorate to show how well they are delivering.

I also know that Grant Robertson will have been receiving advice from many people about what his priorities should be.  I’m one of those people.

I’ve talked with, and written to, him and other ministers numerous times about the urgent need for fair funding for community social services supporting vulnerable children and families.

The logic is clear: demand for services is growing, both in volume and complexity; our services are under-funded to the tune of $630 million a year; without such services, child safety is at risk; and the government will not be able to deliver on its child welllbeing strategy.

The under-funding also means we struggle to pay fair wages which means we have real difficulties to recruit and retain the skilled staff needed.  Aside from the impact on services for vulnerable children and families, this must surely be of interest to a government that supports workers’ rights to fair and equitable pay.

The 2020 wellbeing budget is a great opportunity to advance child wellbeing through strengthening the front line services that work with the most vulnerable children. It’s also a great way to build social infrastructure, alongside the huge investment being made in physical infrastructure.

Fair funding and fair pay is a vital – and urgent – need that must be addressed in this year’s budget.

Having fair funding high on the priority list for a Labour/NZ First/Green government’s 2020 Wellbeing budget (and each of their election manifestoes) is the right thing to do.  So let’s do it!

 

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

Click here for our websitehttp://comvoices.org.nz/