Dunedin budget services are swamped by beneficiaries
needing hardship grants, says Dunedin Budgeting Advisory
Service executive officer Shirley Woodrow. Photo by Peter
Dunedin beneficiaries applying for more than five
hardship grants in a year have ''swamped'' budget advisers in
Dunedin with nearly 2000 referrals in less than two years.
Social Development Ministry documents released under the
Official Information Act reveal that Work and Income (Winz)
referrals of Dunedin beneficiaries applying for more than
five hardship grants in a year had created a ''huge'' demand
for budget advice.
In the three months ended December 2010, Work and Income
referred one Dunedin beneficiary for budgeting advice after
they applied for more than five hardship grants. However,
there were 503 referrals for the three months ended June
Work and Income deputy chief executive Debbie Power said the
Future Focus legislation change in September 2010 required
repeat hardship payment applicants to go for budgeting advice
to break the cycle of welfare dependency.
Between October 2010 and September 2012, there were 1987
beneficiaries referred in Dunedin - 1092 from Dunedin Central
and 895 from South Dunedin.
Dunedin Budgeting Advisory Service executive officer Shirley
Woodrow said the longest wait for budget advice from the
service was a month and then the beneficiary had to return to
Winz to get payment of the grant.
''What's the point of that? When somebody's desperate for
food and they then have to make an appointment to go back to
Work and Income, it just makes a mockery of the whole
The ''absolutely horrendous'' long waiting lists forced
beneficiaries to borrow money, Mrs Woodrow said.
''Money that they can't afford to repay, so they just dig a
bigger hole for themselves.''
If budgeting services had more funding, they could employ
more staff and process referrals faster, she said.
The service had two paid staff and 63 volunteers, Mrs Woodrow
''Ideally, I need 90 volunteers or another full-time paid
person, but we don't have the money to pay anyone else.''
The ministry provided $9.5 million funding to more than 150
budgeting services in New Zealand in the 2011-12 financial
Mrs Woodrow said the funding was insufficient for the number
''I know some places were absolutely swamped and had
[referral] increases of over 1000%.''
Anglican Family Care director Nicola Taylor said the
legislation change put the centre's budget service under
The intent of the legislation was understood but there was a
lack of resources to respond to the increase in demand, Mrs
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the ministry
spent $13 million supporting budgeting service organisations
in New Zealand in the past year.
''Which is a substantial increase in funding, and while I
appreciate they are very busy dealing with demand, I think
the policy is working because people are getting the advice
The Dunedin Budget Advisory Service received $122,270 in
funding for the past financial year and a one-off boost in
funding of $6450 on top of an extra Community Response Fund
grant of $20,000, Ms Bennett said.