As a community worker of may years I offer just this, believe nothing of what your hear, and half of what you see! Via our news reporting system we see only what representations the media want the General Public to see. In truth, the gaps in socio-economic boundaries are far wider and impacting than we are ever told. One question that needs answering is: what is happening to all the $$$ being gradually, (and not so gradually) from the public sector? The public fund for supporting Community Groups who use volunteers to assist those who are in need and at risk is, and has been a sinking lid policy for many years. It is about to get much worse! Volunteers form a huge part of a work force that is not actually taken into account as far as income saved is concerned. At one time, some years ago, the amount of man hours if calculated as paid time, for one sector was $10,000,000.00 per year. That figure was not definite, as many hours are not recorded in a manner for such a calculation. Government needs to recognise that Volunteers are an very important part of the community bindings, and advocate for more use of volunteers, as they make friends, network, and learn work skills. New Zealanders with English as a second language also make a difference here.
So, back to my question: where is all the money being withdrawn from services going? We are all spending more under the user pays system, costs for services, power, telephone, etc are increasing, as is food, clothing, and transport, so it isnt going there. Importers, traders, businesses that manufacture goods to sell, and export, all have to pay to do this, and much of the cost is in duty, customs etc that goes into the government revenue coffers. Salaries and wages are not keeping up with increasing inflation, Beneficiaries, (those awful people who bludge!) are not receiving enough to keep body and soul together, never mind support a family, particularly when there are children or others who have serious health issues.
If anyone chose to look back over the last few years, and research how much we have lost in $$$$ from the services, it would be realised that much of that money would have made a difference to the housing situation in this country. There have been over the last 20/30 years several practical building methods that cut the time, and cost of constructing a house for example. Modulok/kitset style is one. Habitat for Humanity, I understand, uses group work, (like barn raising?). Some of these ideas are worth implementing today when the need for fast, cost effective, sound construction is the requirement. Sweat Equity, where the future home owners put in time and energy, is another way of building equity.
Which ever way we look at it, unless the current system is restructured, New Zealand will end up with overwhelming poverty, illness and crime.