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The imbalances of wealth and poverty in the Waikato region are brought home in the latest report developed by Poverty Action Waikato. Entitled “Imbalances and Inequalities”, this report draws attention to the failure of unfettered market in the meeting of human needs and the steady creation of inequality and wealth concentration.
Housing, primarily organized through the private market place, is not available for low income households at an affordable rate. The day to day struggle of making ends meet impacts households, reducing their ability to provide for their children and our future generations. Unaffordable housing and food insecurity go hand in hand. The lack of financial resources in our lower income households, with which to meet both housing and food costs, creates the ongoing need for charitable services and philanthropy. Services like foodbanks and the need for the provision of food in lower decile schools are directly connected to the lack of financial resources that communities have access to.
Agriculture is the traditional wealth and income earner for the Waikato region, yet employment opportunities in the sector are reducing. This does not bode well for the pool of unemployed people who desperately need work opportunity. The global financial crises and the employment shocks that occurred as part of the 2008 recession, demonstrated the vulnerability of livelihoods that depend to varying degrees on commodity markets. Young people, single parents, Māori and Pacifica peoples are disproportionately affected by poor labour market conditions. Single men without work, and particularly those who have been through the criminal justice system, face considerable challenges in reintegrating and contributing to society.
Single parents with low education attainment often have more limited employment opportunities than other parents. Parenting is demanding work. The vulnerability of children in single parent households where income and support are limited is an ongoing concern. The creation of employment and training opportunities for vulnerable young women in rural centres is an important consideration. The welfare reforms are heavily vested in encouraging people into work. Unfortunately, we have not heard many stories related to the creation of work and the redistribution of wealth through employment.
Many people are responding to the lack of resources in creative ways. Most services and goods that people need cost money. However, some communities are fostering initiatives that facilitate sharing and reciprocity that do not depend on monetary markets.
This report highlights the ongoing privatization of human welfare and the dominance of market based processes in the organization and distribution of resources. This shift appears to be exacerbating wealth and income inequality which in turn negatively affects the degree of interconnectedness that people experience in their day to day lives. This report calls for better equ