The head of the Community Law Centres says the “surprising” 20% boost provided in the Budget will make up for a decade-long deficit and enable the centres to reach thousands more people each year.
The increase to the CLCs amounts to $2.2 million extra operating funding in 2018/19.
Community Law’s Chief Executive Liz Tennet says the amount is exactly what they asked for, but they did not expect to get it all.
“We are absolutely thrilled. You can ask but you don’t necessary receive. We have been suffering under a spending freeze for the past 10 years. We’re assisting 50,000 clients each year and this will enable us to help more people who need our services,” she says.
“We work out of 140 locations around New Zealand and we will be able to travel to more outreach centres, and to improve our staffing rations and therefore deliver more services.
“We are hearing a lot about increased poverty levels, and in particular the working poor, those who have a full-time income but which is not enough to cover their housing costs and other needs. This will enable us to see more of those people.
“But we are recognising that this is pretty much a top up to offset the inflation movement that’s occured over the last 10 years and under which we have to live under terrible constraints.”
Community Law Centres employ about 170 people nationally, of which 80 are lawyers, on top of the 1200 lawyers who provide pro bono services.