Stagnant incomes and rising living costs are pushing more and more New Zealanders into poverty, the Salvation Army says.
In its State of the Nation Report, released Wednesday, the charity paints a damning picture of poorer Kiwis being left behind despite economic growth. This year's report Kei a Tātou - It is us showed pay packets for families on the breadline were being swallowed by rising living costs.
"There was no discernible change in child poverty rates, and youth unemployment remained at around 20 per cent," the report said...it is clear that the benefits of this recent strong economic growth have not been shared across the board, or trickled down, as the theory would have it."
Virtually all housing affordability indices have worsened since 2012, the report said. The median price of an Auckland house now costs 13 times the average Auckland wage, as opposed to nine times in 2012. Nationally, houses now cost seven times the average wage, when in 2012 it was six. Meanwhile, housing shortages across New Zealand were linked to higher house prices and rents, the report said.
"Homelessness will increase at least over the next one to two years."
Despite slowly closing gaps, "tens of thousands" of underprivileged youth face academic under-achievement and limited opportunity. That put them at high risk of "anti-social and personally destructive behaviours", the report said. "This suggests that as a society we are overlooking the needs and potential of our young."
Crime rates are falling, but more Kiwis are being imprisoned, especially for violent offending, the report said. Prison numbers rose nearly a quarter from 8500 in 2014 to 10,470 by late 2017. More than 22 per cent of prisoners are now held on remand. The report also questioned prison's efficacy on preventing reoffending, stating one-third of released prisoners are re-incarcerated within two years.