Family First NZ is repeating its call for an urgent assessment of the effects of raging price rises on low- and middle-income families.
According to the food price index just released by Statistics NZ, food prices have increased 6% in the year to March 2008. But the most significant upward contribution came from the grocery foods (up 9.0 percent).
“Increases in basic items like cheese (up 44.2 percent), fresh milk (up 21.7 percent), ready to eat food (up 5.8), bread (up 12.2 percent), butter (up 82.2 percent), and soft drinks (up 8.6 percent) are adding to the financial pressure on families,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“When families are under financial pressure, this places pressure on relationships and the health and well-being of children.”
“The most difficult aspect is that it is not luxuries or discretionary items that are impacting the most. It is ‘essentials’ such as dairy products, breads, some meats, and most noticeably petrol. These are costs which low- and middle-income families have very little room to move on and have no choice but to absorb in some way.”
“Combined with increased mortgage payments and power costs – and no immediate relief in sight – the outlook is bleak for families, and they are hurting. Increasing their working hours and doing overtime simply places additional time pressures on families, and tax bracket ‘creep’, petrol taxes and the effective marginal tax rate (EMTR) on Working for Families is also penalising families.”
“It’s also a feeding ground for loan sharks to exploit desparate families,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First is calling for politicians to consult urgently with community foodbanks, budgeting advice centres, and welfare and community organisations to assess the true impact of cost rises on families. Any organisation working with families will be aware of just how difficult it is at the moment.