Howick and Pakuranga Times
Botany and Ormiston Times : Botany and Ormiston Times Thursday June 11 2015
6 — Botany and Ormiston Times, Thursday, June 11, 2015 www.times.co.nz SC3302 Decisions by the Auckland Council under the 10 year Long Term Plan to continue taking on activities that are outside the Council’s core functions are adding unnecessarily to the financial burden imposed on ratepayers. The latest case of the Council poking its nose into areas that it should not be involved with, at ratepayers’ expense, concerns a decision to allocate $460,000 over three years to combat homelessness in Auckland. The allocation is small by comparison with the Council’s total budget of more than $3 billion. But social welfare is the responsibility of central government, not local government. It is the Council’s appetite for more and more spending, accompanied by an increasing rates burden that is causing hardship for home owners. This exacerbates financial tensions between mortgage holders and financial institutions and between landlords and tenants over rents. These are more often than not the tensions that provoke homelessness, especially among the most vulnerable. The hearts of those Councillors who voted in favour of the expenditure may be in the right place. But let’s remember that we are taxed in order that the Government can deal with poverty and homelessness. We should also recall that when researchers recently canvassed ratepayers on local government performance, the overwhelming view was that councils should focus on providing infrastructure such as roads, the removal of waste and the provision of parks and libraries, as well as planning and regulatory functions. When it comes to hardship, the Council should be most concerned about the rising rates burden. The senior citizens in Auckland on fixed incomes, who paid for their homes and through their rates for most of today’s infrastructure, are among those hit hardest by the Mayor’s “rate and spend” policy. The latest rates rise will fall heavily and perhaps disproportionately, in an income related scale, on South Auckland ratepayers. Many of these are among the most vulnerable to financial stress. A question which has to be asked is, how many staff will be required to deal with this expenditure? Staffing increases are among the most significant factors contributing to the rising rates burden. Direction of this social expenditure will be an administrative cost. The Council can play a legitimate role in ending homelessness by doing away with regulations that prevent or make it difficult to open up land for development. Impediments to housing developments contribute to increases in house prices and rental costs. Estimates place the shortfall of houses in Auckland at about 50,000, mainly as a result of poor planning policies. It is little wonder that the most vulnerable struggle to find suitable accommodation. Chronic household overcrowding is a major problem for many Aucklanders. This allocation to combat homelessness is a tiny band aid that does nothing to address the root cause of the problem. The fact that only three Councillors, including Councillor Stewart and myself, voted against such an intrusion of the Council into the domain of central government suggests many of those around the table were swayed more by their hearts than their minds. The “rate and spend” philosophy must go. A good place to start is a refusal to accept expenditure that is the responsibility of others, in this case central government. OPINION Council needs to stick to core business Social welfare is the responsibility of central government, not local government, says Dick Quax With Councillor Sharon Stewart and Councillor Dick Quax DICK Sharon and NEWS $16m more for hospices ANEXTRA $16 million of funding is being pumped into hospices across greater Auckland over the next four years. “Hospices make a huge difference to people’s lives by ensuring terminally ill people are as free from pain and suffering as possible. They also provide valuable care and support for families and friends,” says Health Minister Jonathan Coleman. “As New Zealand’s population grows and ages, the demand for palliative care continues to increase.“ That’s why in Budget 2015 we allocated $52m over four years to help hospices around the country expand their community palliative care services.” Auckland’s three DHBs – Counties Manukau, Waitemata and Auckland - will receive around an extra $4m a year for four years. The new funding takes effect from July 1. The funding will be shared between Mercy Hospice, Franklin Hospice, Hospice South Auckland, Hibiscus Coast Hospice, North Shore Hospice and West Auckland Hospice. “ The extra funding means staff at these hospices are able to better support terminally ill people at home and in aged-care facilities,” says Dr Coleman. “ This funding boost is part of the Government’s commitment to delivering high quality services closer to home.” In 2013, more than 15,000 people received care and support from hospice services throughout New Zealand, and hospice staff made more than 145,000 home visits. Just over 20 per cent of people using hospice services were aged under 60 and three-quarters had a cancer-related disease. Win it! ➤ FOR the next three weeks we will be giving away prizes for the best letter to the editor. Write to us at Bot@times.co.nz or at Level 1, The Lane, Botany Town Centre and be in to win Efamol Pure Evening Primrose Oil-200 capsules with Pantene shampoo and conditioner.
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