People can’t afford Christmas

Modern Christmas, dominated by commercialism and relentless pressure on ever widening present lists, is a financial challenge for most people.

Newstalk ZB:  Survey shows one in five Kiwis can’t afford Christmas

A new survey has shed light on the struggles Kiwi families face during Christmas.

The Salvation Army survey shows one in five Kiwis say they can’t afford to celebrate Christmas, with almost half saying Christmas is a time of financial struggle.

Head of Welfare Services Major Pam Waugh told Kate Hawkesby these numbers don’t come as a surprise, given the rising living costs.

“When you look at what’s going on in our communities and you listen to families, this us quite indicative of what we see coming through our door but also of families struggling to keep their head above water.”

Ever year the number of families needing help increases, however Waugh says they are hoping the Government’s Families Package will start to help.

“This year we are hoping to stabilise it. We think the Families Package has made a dent…but a lot of the families we work with are struggle with debt that has built up over years of not being able to afford their basic living cost.”

“We have encouraged people to look at that debt and get it paid down so in another year or so we will see the full impact of those packages.”

She said Christmas puts added stress on families who are already struggling to cope.

“Christmas impacts on all of us. We are in a consumer-driven society. Children are watching TV and see what they want. They have the same wishes and wants as all children and that impacts on our families who really struggle to provide that.”

While not being able to afford Christmas depends on what your budget is, generally and for the Christmas period, it has become a financial disaster zone for many people.

I remember some very sparse Christmases when I was a child, especially in years where fruit was hit badly by frost. Things are easier these days by a long way for me.

But it’s very easier to get drawn into more presents for more more people, and far more food than anyone needs. And this can set the finances back far more than is necessary.

I’m looking forward to a great Christmas this year – it will be the first one shared with three grandchildren who are coming to stay for three weeks. The present challenge is amplified because they all have birthdays in the week or so before they arrive. But just sharing the occasion with them will mean more than anything that money can buy.

Nation – Solving the housing ‘crisis’

This morning on Newshub Nation:

Can the Government’s big ideas really solve the country’s housing crisis? We talk to housing strategist Leonie Freeman and Alan Johnson from the Salvation Army.

Alan Johnson from the Salvation Army:

Kiwibuild is going to benefit the young middle class, not the people he deals with everyday.

The Government is being unrealistic thinking they can reach Kiwibuild goals with very little subsidy

 

Greens ‘key to ending child poverty’

The Green Party continues their ‘change the government’ approach  in response to the Salvation Army’s 10th ‘state of the nation’ report.


The latest Salvation Army report reinforces the need for a new Government committed to action on the biggest issues facing New Zealand, the Green Party said today.

The 10th State of the Nation report from The Salvation Army, Off the Track, released today shows entrenched rates of child poverty, the highest prison muster ever, and an alarming lack of safe and affordable housing.

“The barriers that many New Zealanders are facing to living a happy life are not being addressed by this National Government,” Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei said.

“Child poverty has become ‘normal’, prison numbers are up, and putting a roof over your family’s head is becoming harder and harder. This isn’t the New Zealand we know and love.

“The Green Party has the solutions to ending child poverty in New Zealand, by increasing incomes, ensuring secure housing, having school lunches available for the kids that need them and many other policy initiatives.

“The thousands of children growing up in poverty right now can’t wait any longer; their health and education is seriously impacted by inadequate standards of living, leading to huge downstream costs for us all.

“John Key said he wanted to address child poverty this Parliamentary term, but failed to. Now the challenge to Prime Minister Bill English is to do better by our kids.

“The progress of a country cannot be measured just by GDP growth; it has to be measured by living standards that enable people to reach their potential and participate in our society. At the moment, lots of us aren’t.

“National’s refusal to implement the solutions needed is leading to skyrocketing emergency financial support, with more and more New Zealanders struggling to keep food on the table. The sheer amount of last-ditch financial assistance that people are having to rely upon is scary, and exemplifies runaway inequality.

“Millions of New Zealanders care about the lives of children and know that we are all in this together. The Salvation Army State of the Nation report is evidence that New Zealand works better when it’s working for everyone,” Mrs Turei said.

Salvation Army ‘state of the nation’

The Salvation Army has put out their 10th annual ‘state of the nation’ report. They have titled it “Off the Track.


Executive Summary

The title of the 2017 State of the Nation report is, in part, inspired by the famous Robert Frost poem, ‘The Road Not Taken’. The final verse of this poem reads:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I— I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This poem describes the choice of which route or track to take, and acknowledges that this single choice made all the difference to what happened subsequently.

And so it is with our national life—the policy route chosen by a Government can make all the difference to what happens subsequently in our collective and individual fortunes.

The National-led Governments of the past eight years have made it very clear that their priority was economic growth and the increase in job numbers and the expansion of incomes that may attend this growth. And this has occurred —especially over the past five years. Such success should be acknowledged both as social progress in its own right and for the opportunities it offers for other sorts of social progress.

However, it is the lack of these other sorts of social progress that most concerns The Salvation Army and, no doubt, many other New Zealanders. This concern has given rise to the focus of this report. We ask: Are we still on the path or track to a shared prosperity as a national community, or have we started to wander off this track?

Three stark conclusions emerge for us from the data and analysis offered in this report:

  1. We have failed to put a dent in rates of child poverty over the past decade.
  2. Our efforts to reduce the prison population have failed and we are planning to expand the already record high prison population by a further 18%.
  3. Housing investment and speculation have been allowed to distort the economy, make us still more indebted, and create levels of homelessness unseen in more than a generation.

We believe the evidence to support these three claims is clear and unequivocal, and some of this evidence is offered in this report.

No matter how we choose to measure child poverty, the emerging conclusion is that nothing much has changed in child poverty rates despite continued economic growth and political rhetoric. A commonly used child poverty measure suggests that 20% of New Zealand’s children (or 212,000 children) live in relative income poverty, while perhaps 8% (or about 85,000 children) face severe material hardship. These numbers are little changed from a decade ago.

salvationarmy-the-children

While a reliable way of measuring crime rates continues to elude us, it does appear that levels of offending are falling. For example, the number of adults convicted of an offence fell from 90,700 in 2010/11 to 64,600 in 2015/16. Despite this fall, New Zealand’s prison population has grown from 8,400 at the end of 2011 to almost 10,000 by the end of 2016. Furthermore, in October 2016, Government announced a $1 billion plan to expand prisons by a further 1,800 beds.

salvationarmy-crime-and-punishment

Auckland’s housing bubble continued to grow during 2016, with the median house price jumping 12% to almost $854,000. Median house prices New Zealandwide grew 12% during 2016 as well, indicating that Auckland’s housing pressures are spreading elsewhere. Alongside these price increases, rents have also increased—growing by around 25% over the past five years, while average wages have risen by half this amount. There is considerable regional variation in these rent increases, with Auckland rent increases slowing recently, while rents in the Waikato have suddenly jumped.

As could perhaps be expected, this rapid increase in house prices has been supported by growing household indebtedness. By September 2016, household debt amounted to 96% of GDP and 160% of disposable household income—both are record highs.

The Government’s strategy has been to drive economic growth, and through this expand job opportunities and incomes. Over the past five years, it has delivered on this strategy—with jobs growing by more than 12% to over 2.5 million and average weekly incomes of employees growing 9% to $987 per week at the end of 2016.

But more jobs and better incomes for those with jobs are not the only contributor to social progress. It is difficult seeing social progress if homeownership rates continue to fall and homelessness becomes more prevalent. A growing prison population is the antipathy of social progress. It is difficult seeing social progress in persistent rates of child poverty—even as the economy grows robustly.

As Robert Frost deduced, the choices made in the past make all the difference to the life we end up living. This is as true of nations as it is of individuals. It appears to The Salvation Army that, either by neglect or silence, we have made political and social choices that have paid scant regard to the interests and future of thousands of New Zealanders —especially our young. This neglect or silence needs to be recognised and addressed if we are to get back on track.

Alan Johnson | Social Policy Analyst Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit

> Download the 2017 Off the Track Report (PDF, 2.37MB)

> Download the 2017 Off the Track Report Summary (PDF, 40.5KB)

Twyford v. Bennett on Salvation Army

There has been interchanges between Phil Twyford and Paula Bennett both inside and outside Parliament over claims originally made by John Key about MSD and the Salvation Army checking on people living in vehicles.

Bennett has admitted that what she advised Key was not “sufficiently clear”.

From Stuff in Government looks at pre-purchasing motel beds for homeless:

MINISTER TAKES RAP FOR SALLIES COMMENTS

She also took the rap for the prime minister’s erroneous comments about the Salvation Army visiting the homeless with MSD when this did not happen.

Key had also said last week they had knocked on the car doors of eight people and they had all refused help.

Prime Minister John Key said on Thursday this was the advice he was given, and directed all questions to Bennett.

“Obviously there was a crosswire, the basic principle was right,” he said.

Twyford stated during a select committee meeting on Wednesday that the Prime Minister had looked like a fool for getting it wrong.

Bennett said Twyford was missing the key point that the squads were out on the ground ready to help homeless.

She had told the Prime Minister that mobile squads made up of non-Government organisations and MSD were out on the ground visiting the homeless.

“I’ve certainly taken responsibility for it,” she said, as she could see how he may have misunderstood.

Following this in Parliament:

Transcript:

9. Social Housing, Minister—Salvation Army Visits

[Sitting date: 08 June 2016. Volume:714;Page:11. Text is subject to correction.]

9. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū) to the Minister for Social Housing: Does she stand by her statement that her advice to the Prime Minister about the Salvation Army’s visit to Bruce Pulman Park “was not sufficiently clear”; if so, why did she and her office release the same misinformation to the media?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Housing): To the first part, my answer is yes, as it was yesterday, and to the second part it is because we obviously did not realise that it was not sufficiently clear when we made the statement, and after we did, we have tidied that up.

Phil Twyford: Did she tell the Prime Minister that officials from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) went out with NGO personnel, including the Salvation Army, to talk to homeless people; if not, what precisely did she tell the Prime Minister?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I cannot remember the exact wording of what I told him, but it was around this kind of statement: “A mobile squad made up of MSD staff and NGOs including the Salvation Army has been visiting Auckland City Mission and areas of Auckland to engage with people who may need help with emergency housing.” From that statement you can see that that could have meant that they were going out together or, as I thought it read, that MSD were going to the Auckland City Mission and the Salvation Army had been going to the park. But, at the end of the day, whether they were there together or separately, it does not omit from the actual situation, which is that we were going out trying to engage people who are in dire circumstances to make sure that they are getting the assistance that they deserve.

Phil Twyford: How does she reconcile her statement “I have nothing to apologise for.” with the Salvation Army saying that her mistake has put at risk their ability to help the homeless?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I am sure that most members of this House have a huge amount of respect for the work that the Salvation Army does with our most vulnerable, and as a consequence of that, as I say, the statements were not meant to be misleading. All I can do is front up and say that I made that mistake, and that is where it sits. But, honestly, you apologise to Chinese and I will apologise to—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Supplementary question, Phil Twyford.

Phil Twyford: Thank you, Mr Speaker—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am calling for a bit of discipline from both sides of the House.

Phil Twyford: Does she accept that it is a failure of her Government’s policy that after 8 years in office she is pre-booking motels for homeless people and charging them for it?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: We are the first Government to put more than $41 million into emergency housing and give them certainty of funding and make sure—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is absolutely no point in the Minister continuing the answer if Mr Twyford does not want to hear it.

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I would like to continue my answer, though.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, there is no point with that sort of level of noise being raised, and I am very tempted to—[Interruption] Order! I am very tempted to move immediately to the next question. There is very little point in supplementary questions being asked when that sort of barrage occurs. I will allow the member, on this occasion, to continue with his supplementary questions, but I expect an answer to be heard with far more decorum than it was just a minute ago.

Phil Twyford: Why did she and the Prime Minister work so hard to try to blame homeless people for their plight, instead of doing something credible to fix the housing crisis that she and her colleagues made?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I know that the facts do not work for the member, but perhaps he would like to listen up to some of them. We are the first Government to put more than $41 million into emergency housing, give certainty of those beds, and increase the number of beds available. We are the first Government to actually be putting that money where it is really needed and addressing those needs as they are.

Laughing at the homeless?

There was a bit of a flap on Twitter yesterday when John Key and David Seymour were accused of laughing at the homeless.

The series of questions and answers in Question Time show Key responding reasonably seriously to questions and assertions by Andrew Little.

The final question by Seymour “Does this Government have a policy for people who appear homeless but are actually just renovating?” was an attempt to laugh at Labour’s botched attempt to photo-op Little with people who were allegedly living in a tent.

Yes it’s reasonable to criticise Seymour and Key for trivialising a serious and issue that is difficult to deal with.

But I think it’s also reasonable to criticise Little’s attempts to use the situation of homeless people and people in difficult living situations to try to score political points.

Making over the top statements like “when it is time to get real, grow up, and take responsibility for the homelessness crisis that has exploded on his and Bill English’s watch” make it easy for Key and the Government to bat off Little’s lines of attack.

In his speech at the Green AGM Little said:

Just look at the issue of rising homelessness we are now confronted with.

More than 40,000 people sleeping in cars, in garages, in severely overcrowded houses. Sleeping on the street.

Children as young as 11 living under bushes in South Auckland.

That’s not New Zealand. That’s not the country we are proud of.

And the Government’s only response, when not blaming others, is blaming homeless people themselves.

So this week they say the homeless don’t want to be helped, they quite like being homeless.

It’s valid to criticise the Government for not doing enough or not doing the right things to address homeless and housing problems, but making obviously incorrect and misleading claims doesn’t make a good case and makes it easy to laugh off the partisan attacks

Transcript:

[Sitting date: 07 June 2016. Volume:714;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]

1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements on housing?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, at the time I made them.

Andrew Little: In his statement that “this Government is not prepared to turn its back on our most vulnerable citizens when they most need our help”, how is it that there are nearly 42,000 homeless people, including 4,000 sleeping rough, in New Zealand?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I cannot verify the numbers that the member has just stated, and I doubt whether they are correct. The Government, as the member will have seen in the Budget, has put considerably more resources into that area, and that is just one of the examples of the actions that we have taken.

Andrew Little: Why will he not apologise to the Salvation Army and the 42,000 homeless New Zealanders for weakening the army’s ability to assist them with his false claim that the homeless do not want help?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not think that is the point that the Salvation Army was making. I think it was making the point that it does not go out with the Ministry of Social Development.

Andrew Little: Why are marae and private donors left doing the job that his out-of-touch Government is failing to do: housing, feeding, and helping dozens of homeless families?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Government spends an enormous amount of resources helping New Zealanders, including the most vulnerable. It spends up to $2 billion a year on income-related rents and other support. There has always been, for a very long period of time, over successive Governments, a range of organisations that give support to those most in need.

Andrew Little: Does he accept that Paula Bennett is out of touch on homelessness after spending the last week backpedalling from her admission that homeless people face a crisis?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Andrew Little: Does he accept that Nikki Kaye is out of touch when she claims that homeless people pop into her office all the time just to tell her that they do not need any help?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, but I do accept that if the member keeps going the way he is at the moment, he may well be out of a job.

Andrew Little: Does he accept that Chester Borrows is out of touch when he wants media to now conduct background checks on any homeless person who has the temerity to speak out about his Government’s hopeless policies on homelessness?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Andrew Little: Why are he and his Ministers running around blaming the homeless when it is time to get real, grow up, and take responsibility for the homelessness crisis that has exploded on his and Bill English’s watch?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: We are not.

David Seymour: Does this Government have a policy for people who appear homeless but are actually just renovating?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, but maybe we should get one.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! Mr Robertson.

 

On John Key lying

There was comment here yesterday on whether John Key lied or not over claims that Government officials visited homeless people with the Salvation Army in Auckland. The Salvation army denied the visits had taken place as described.

Social media jumped on the ‘Key lied’ bandwagon.

So did Andrew Little: Andrew Little: Prime Minister John Key ‘patently lied’ about homeless comments

Labour leader Andrew Little has accused the Prime Minister John Key of lying in comments he made about homeless people.

“I can’t think of a time when the Prime Minister and another minister [have] patently lied about something that … hasn’t actually happened,” Mr Little told reporters at Parliament this afternoon.

The Labour leader made the allegation after Salvation Army contradicted a claim by Mr Key that Government officials had visited homeless in an Auckland park this week and had their offers of help declined.

I didn’t jump in to this story because I wanted to see what facts actually emerged. I don’t know that we have the whole story yet.

Mr Key said yesterday that some people who were approached in Bruce Pullman Park in Takanini on Monday night declined offers of help.

“MSD and the Sallies went around and knocked on eight cars that they could find,” he said.

“All eight of those people refused to take support either from Sallies or MSD.”

In a statement today, the Salvation Army said they turned down an offer by MSD to accompany them to the park, which was one of its regular visits to the site.

“[The Prime Minister’s] statements are incorrect,” the charity said.

“The Salvation Army declined the offer by MSD officials to accompany The Salvation Army as some of these people are very wary of Government officials.

“The results of this statement, as well as recent images of homeless people living in dire material hardship disseminated by the media, have deeply upset these people and have put the relationship between them and Salvation Army personnel in jeopardy, weakening the Army’s ability to assist them.”

“The Salvation Army has spent years developing relationships and building trust with these people living on the outer margins of society — people who often have a deep distrust of officials.”

I think it’s reasonable to tale the word of the Salvation Army, in which case it appears that Key was wrong.

But that doesn’t mean he lied, and I would be very surprised if he deliberately lied about something like this.

It’s absurd to think Key would concoct a story like this out of nothing to deliberately mislead.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said his comments were based on advice that was given to him.

“The point he was making is that people have been approached and offered assistance and a large number of them have refused,” the spokeswoman said.

So I think it is most likely that Key misunderstood what he was advised or he was given incorrect or misleading information.

Of course this hasn’t stopped the Twitterati and others from claiming that Key is throwing Paula Bennett under a bus or throwing officials under a bus. Many people have been trying to portray Key as an inveterate liar for a long time.

Martyn Bradbury at The Daily Blog: Key just lies about the Salvation Army helping the homeless for him – media ask him if he’d shoot a gorilla

So when Key claimed his Ministry Officials and Salvation Army advocates went out to ‘help’ the homeless, it turns out he was lying…

Some have taken a more reasonable approach, like Mickysavage at The Standard in Salvation Army contradicts Key’s homelessness claims:

Key ought to apologise to the Salvation Army and to the homeless people, preferably personally.  And he should get his facts right before commenting.

Fair enough, I think an apology is justified. But some of the comments that followed were typical of common left wing lines of attack:

save nz:

This government are serial liars and every statement seems to harm someone, even damaging the relationships and reputation of the Salvation Army.

Lanthanide:

Key only apologises to Slater.

Wensleydale:

Oh, look, John Key’s telling lies again. Well, I never!

Andrew Little:

“I can’t think of a time when the Prime Minister and another minister [have] patently lied about something that … hasn’t actually happened,”

Ok, that last comment wasn’t at The Standard but it is along the same lines of attack.

I hope Key does publicly apologise to the Salvation Army for getting things wrong on a very sensitive and difficult to deal with topic. But I won’t hold my breath.

The overreaction from the left once again makes it easier for Key to bat this away as just more over the top petty attacks, which is a shame as it gets him off the hook when the issue of homeless people deserves serious attention.

Key has done some harm through what appear to be inaccurate comments, and he should do what he can to rectify that.

Little’s response was disappointing but unfortunately that adds to a disappointing  performance in general.

The shrill shills on the left are probably doing more harm to the homelessness issue by trying to turn this into just another key bashing exercise.

And they are doing more harm to their powerlessness issue as well.

‘Care Alliance’ careless

The so-called ‘Care Alliance’ has issued a very careless press release attacking the husband of Lecretia Seals.

Matt Vickers has been attacked for considering an invitation to speak at the Euthanasia 2016 conference in Amsterdam in May.

NZ Herald: Widower of Lecretia Seales attacked for attendance at euthanasia conference

His possible attendance has been slammed by the Care Alliance, which issued a press release asking if he would now lobby for suicide pills for all over 70s.

Matthew Jansen, secretary of the group, which formed in 2012 and includes Family First NZ, Hospice New Zealand and the Salvation Army, said Mr Vickers’ attendance showed “what a slippery slope the so-called right to die really is”.

“The Dutch organisers of the conference are campaigning for everybody over the age of 70 to have access to a suicide pill as a matter of right. Will Mr Vickers be speaking for or against such a law change here?”

This is a very careless attack by Jansen, and Hospice New Zealand, Family First and the Salvation Army should be very concerned to be seen as associated with him.

Mr Jansen said he was not attacking Mr Vickers personally, but publicising the fact he had been invited to the conference, and the views of conference organisers and some attendees.

“He has allowed his name to be associated with that [Euthanasia 2016]. I am pointing out the facts.

“[Assisted dying advocates] start with the thin end of the wedge, but I think people are entitled to understand what the thick end of the wedge looks like.”

Jansen is not pointing out facts, he is making fairly despicable connections between Vickers and more extreme measures that Vickers has not had any link to.

Mr Vickers, who is writing a book about his wife’s dying quest, told the Herald that the criticism was unfortunate.

He was still deciding whether to attend the conference, but should he do so it would be “simply fallacious” to assume his attendance was an automatic endorsement of the views of organisers or attendees.

“I think in New Zealand we probably want more moderate laws, laws that are more similar to some of those in the US states, rather than some of the laws in the Netherlands and so on.

“I am interested in getting to the bottom of what is happening in the Benelux countries [Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg] — understanding more about some of the assertions from people like the Care Alliance about just how unsafe they think that these laws would be.

“It is much an understanding thing, if I do decide to go, as it is talking about Lecretia’s story.”

Mr Vickers said recent attacks from the Care Alliance and its allies were “deeply undignified, insulting to Lecretia’s memory, and unfortunately lowering the quality of the public debate”.

“That they’re resorting to such tactics indicates they must be losing faith in the quality of their arguments and their ability to debate fairly.”

It is very undignified and insulting.

Hospice New Zealand, Family First and the Salvation Army should disassociate themselves from Jansen’s attack, and possibly from Jansen altogether if he is this careless with his press releases.

We should debate euthanasia in New Zealand but Jansen isn’t doing any credit to his arguement, nor to the so called ‘Care Alliance’.

Sob story but Salvation Army resists handout mentality

Stuff appears to have laid on the sympathy and guilts:

Kids to go without Christmas, mum says

An Invercargill couple say their six young kids will go without on Christmas day and it’s the Salvation Army’s fault.

Shelly Edwards and Leo Hewett said their six children aged 3-10 will get no presents and have a diet of chicken and bread on Christmas day because the Salvation Army failed to help them in their time of need.

“How can we tell the kids there’s nothing for Christmas?” Shelly asked from their south Invercargill state house yesterday.

Struggling to afford a decent Christmas for their kids, they thought it was sorted when the Nga Kete trust referred them to the Salvation Army scheme called adopt-a-family, which sees businesses and individuals sponsor struggling families during Christmas by providing them with a hamper filled with food and treats.

The family had been on the same scheme last year and received presents for their children, a supermarket voucher and a food hamper, they said.

The couple said they had always believed  the Salvation Army was there to look after people, “not push them away”.

“We were relying on adopt-a-family … it’s sad they won’t help people like us,” Shelly said.

The children would not be getting any presents and the family would eat what was in the fridge, including bread and chicken on Christmas day, they said.

“I feel sad for my kids because they are going to miss out on Christmas … we were counting on that for Christmas,” Shelly said.

But the Sallies didn’t buy this sob story.

However, the Salvation Army says the parents are to blame for their family’s predicament because they have relied on handouts rather than trying to help themselves.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Brenda King said the family had never been put on the adopt-a-family scheme this year, effectively because they had failed to help themselves.

Shelly had been using the services of the Salvation Army for about two years and when she received more than three food parcels in one year she was referred to a budget advice centre to receive financial planning assistance, King said.

However, Shelly had not engaged with the budget advisory service so was not put on the adopt-a-family scheme, King said.

The Salvation Army’s aim was for its clients to get to the point where they could look after themselves and be self sufficient.

“If we keep handing out we are enabling them to stay in the situation they are in. We aren’t actually helping them at all in the long run.”

Shelly and her partner had six children and they were responsible for them, King said.

“I have been in touch with her budget advisor and she assures me they do have money. Like everyone Shelly has known Christmas is coming.”

The Sallies have a reputation for hard work and helping a lot of people.

In this case it sounds like parents have ignored attempts to help them budget through the year, expecting to get a repeat handout for Christmas.

When they were turned down they (presumably) went to the media to shame the Sallies into giving them handouts again.

It’s not surprising to see a tough love stance from the Sallies. It’s difficult for them dealing with a wide range of families in various states of need.

But parents have to take responsibility for their own situation. A range of help is on offer to try and assist them turn their lives around.

This might be a tough Christmas for their kids. But if the parents learn from their harsh Christmas message they might make a better Christmas happen for their kids next year. And they will all be better off for it.

Salvation Army say they tendered for gambling contract

Green MP Denise Roche claimed that the Salvation Army was awarded the problem gambling contract without tendering for it, but the Salvation  Army says this is wrong.

Oddly there isn’t any press release on this on the Green website, but this is at Scoop:

Problem gambling decision raises serious questions

Revelations that the Salvation Army was awarded Problem Gambling’s contract without seeking it raise serious questions about how that decision was made, the Green Party said today.

“The fact the Salvation Army said it did not tender for the contract to supply problem gambling services, yet was awarded it, adds weight to the allegation that the Problem Gambling Foundation were being punished for its opposition to the SkyCity deal,” said Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche.

“Problem gambling is a serious problem in New Zealand and those fighting to deal with the problem should not be punished for doing their job.

“I think the Government and Health Ministry have serious questions to answer about how this contract was awarded.

“Have their been any other occasions when an organisation that did not even tender for a Government contract got it? It is a highly unusual situation.

“This decision needs to be revisited. New Zealanders will not accept this treatment of an advocate fighting to make life better for people.”

It seemed odd to be awarded a contract you hadn’t tendered for.

NZ Doctor have done some checking.

We tendered, says Salvation Army

But the head of the Salvation Army’s Addiction Services, Captain Gerry Walker, says this is wrong.

“We tendered for it,” he told New Zealand Doctor, “We tendered for what we believed we had the capacity and capability to deliver.”

Captain Walker says he does not know where the idea the Salvation Army was surprised to receive the contract had come from and that it had not described itself as the “national provider”.

“There is no surprise. We have been waiting to hear what we will be contracted to provide.”

I think there’s valid questions to be asked about the tender and how the service can best be provided but making this a highly politicised issue and making what appear to be incorrect claims is diverting from what should be examined.