6 Oct 2008

Agencies criticise tax cut decision for beneficiaries

10:06 am on 6 October 2008

The Government's decision not to pass on tax cuts to beneficiaries ignores the country's most vulnerable citizens, say some social agencies.

The benefits of the Government's $10.6 billion tax cut programme are not being extended to beneficiaries because benefits are set at the net, or after-tax, level.

Mike Smith, director of Catholic aid agency Caritas, says that is a cruel blow for those struggling the most with rising food and petrol prices.

But the Government says it has made other provisions for beneficiaries, including increasing the amount of help available through special-needs grants.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army is applying for Housing New Zealand funding to research the needs of homeless people in Whangarei.

Local churches, which run emergency housing in the city, say many people with no roof over their heads do not show up in official figures.

Spokesperson Sharon Bayne says it may be time the city had a halfway house to help single men.

Ms Bayne says there is a shortage of emergency housing in Whangarei, and most people on benefits cannot manage the high rents in the city.