Govt funding doesn’t cover costs - agency
A $10,000 grant is not enough to cover the cost of housing government agencies, Whitianga Social Services says.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced $10,000 in funding for the non-government agency after a meeting with Coromandel Peninsula social agencies in Thames on September 8.
However, Whitianga Social Services manager Jenny Wolf said while the funding was appreciated, it wasn’t enough.
‘‘Ten thousand barely covers the time we have put in and still continue to put in to the community,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s a one-off piece of funding, it’s not ongoing. Our problems in our community are still ongoing.’’
Wolf said the agency had been eligible since 2002 for $25,000 in funding per year as a rural Heartland provider, which is an agency that has two or more government agencies working out of their facility.
Whitianga Social Services accommodates four government agencies, including ACC, IRD, Legal Aid and Department of Corrections.
Many similar Heartland providers around New Zealand got $25,000 in government funding per year but the Whitianga agency had received nothing despite her repeated requests, she said.
Tolley said she had recommended to the Ministry Social Development (MSD) that Whitianga Social Services be contracted as an agent to recognise that they were completing a service.
The $10,000 grant was for six months because of where it fell in the contract cycle, and because it was close to the general election on September 23, she said.
Coromandel MP Scott Simpson said if he were re-elected, he would be pushing for a government contract for Whitianga Social Services.
‘‘This will be an ongoing conversation, it’s not a oncer from my point of view,’’ he said.
‘‘I’d like them to have financial recognition, I’d like them to have a relationship with MSD, WINZ, in order to acknowledge the work that they’re doing.
‘‘They are a community organisation that have been doing enormously good work in Whitianga for years.’’
Tolley said the grant was to help with Work and Income requests in Whitianga.
Work and Income offices in Whitianga and Coromandel were closed after security changes following the Ashburton shootings in 2014, when two staff members died.
Since then, Whitianga residents needing assistance from Work and Income have to drive 1.5 hours to Thames.
‘‘It is a more isolated community that needs to have access to some of those services and if that trust is providing it, then my attitude is that we should be acknowledging that,’’ Tolley said.
‘‘They’ve been doing it out of the goodness of their hearts for some time.’’
Five representatives from social agencies in the region attended the meeting in Thames, where Tolley detailed the recent overhaul of Child Youth and Fam- ily, now known as Ministry for Vulnerable Children.
Concerns from agencies include violent offenders being bailed to addresses where children lived, parents with substance abuse issues, a shortage of psychologists trained to treat childhood trauma, rural access to services, the high cost of housing and a shortage of housing.