'Nothing to help poorest families'

Family support:  Sarah Anderson says her family has helped to  keep the wolf from the door since she gave birth to 10-week-old Jay-Dee Howard.
DEREK FLYNN/Marlborough Express
Family support: Sarah Anderson says her family has helped to keep the wolf from the door since she gave birth to 10-week-old Jay-Dee Howard.

Last night's Budget did little to help low-income people, says Barnados Marlborough area manager Mike Henderson.

A brave Budget would have adjusted tax reductions made last year to balance out the effect of increasing GST, to make sure low-income people benefited, Mr Henderson said.

Families living on a limited income were struggling to cover the basics such as bread and milk.

One result of the stress of living on an inadequate income was increasing domestic violence, Mr Henderson said.

He was surprised that in these tough times the Government had not made some symbolic gestures to show it was feeling the pain. For example, Lockwood Smith's $13,000 Speaker's tour about to travel through Latin America should have been called off, he said.

Two positives in the Budget for low-income families were the small increase in Working for Families benefits for households on the lowest income tier and a reversal to a 2010 Budget decision to pay centres with 80 to 100 per cent registered teachers the same as those below an 80 per cent threshold.

"Barnados is really convinced of the value of early childhood education," he said.

"We know that 85 per cent of brain-wiring happens in the first three years."

Marlborough was missing out from a trend towards the Government directing resources at high-risk communities, Mr Henderson said.

One example was the withdrawal of funding from advocacy against domestic violence which had achieved great results in this community to direct money at families with entrenched problems. This valuable programme would end here in June, he said.

Blenheim woman Sarah Anderson, 22, says the generosity of family and help from community organisations such as Plunket is helping her make ends meet while she is on the domestic purposes benefit. Before 10-week-old Jay-Dee was born, Sarah moved in with her father, Ken Anderson.

Now she puts $180 of her $370 or so a week benefit towards paying for groceries for the household. Another $60 a week goes on baby formula and nappies. Add other costs such as electricity and she usually has about $10 a week left for herself.

Her own and Jay-Dee's family members were supportive and Marlborough Plunket helped out by providing baby clothes, Miss Anderson said.

She was pleased the KiwiSaver scheme she started paying into when employed remained and she looked forward to returning to work when Jay-Dee started pre-school.

The Marlborough Express