Concern over trend towards centralisation

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has welcomed aspects of the Government’s 2022 Budget, but has some concerns as well.

“We welcome the $1billion cost of living package that will assist low-income families who are increasingly
faced with the effects of rising inflation. The extension of the half-price public transport subsidy and the permanent subsidy for Community Service Card holders will also provide help to people who rely on public transport, with the additional benefit of reducing carbon emissions,” said Caritas engagement manager Roger Ellis.

“The additional funds for affordable housing will help more low-income people to gain access to housing, but we are still a long way from having enough warm dry homes to house all our people. The overdue investment of $11billion into the public health system will increase capacity for the provision of health services at a time when the health sector is severely stretched and understaffed,” Mr Ellis said.

“We also support the greater provision through the $580million package across Māori and Pacific health, social and justice sectors, which we hope, if used effectively, will begin to address some of the entrenched inequities in our country.”

However, Caritas has some concerns about the growing trend towards centralisation of power away from communities towards central government agencies. “’Decisions need to be made at the most appropriate level, informed by what is happening in communities. For example, the move to consolidate District Health Boards into a centralised health agency runs the risk of distancing decision-making away from local communities,” Mr Ellis said.

“Governments can spend billions of dollars on various social issues. But, if this spending does not translate into meaningful change at the local community level, then questions need to be asked about its effectiveness. The real test of this Budget will be the extent of positive impact at the grassroots for those who, this winter, lack decent housing, who struggle to pay for the groceries, the power and the rent,” he added.

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NZ Catholic Staff

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