20 May 2009

Govt accused of gutting funding for social services

11:12 pm on 20 May 2009

The Labour Party is accusing the Government of gutting funding to voluntary and community sector groups, despite a $40 million boost.

In a pre-Budget announcement, the Government said on Wednesday it will bring forward $40 million from future budgets to help see the sector through the recession.

The money has been largely welcomed by community groups but Labour says it will send the sector into chaos.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the fund is a short term measure in difficult economic times, when demand for services including family violence help and budgeting advice is growing but charitable donations are falling.

Ms Bennett says the funding, to be included in the Budget on 28 May, is to designed to plug the gap but will not continue once the economy improves.

The Government says it plans to review the existing programme which allocates more than $400 million over four years to fully fund the sector.

But Labour's social development spokesperson Annette King says that means there will be no certainty beyond the $40 million funding promised on Wednesday.

Ms Bennett says the Government is committing exactly the same funding as the previous Labour-led government, but in a different way.

The Budget will be delivered on 28 May.