Major concerns about Age Concern
By K Gurunathan, Mayor of Kapiti
Age Concern in Kapiti has lost its long-standing contract to provide elder abuse and neglect prevention services.
This loss increases my concern that not for profit organisations providing valuable social services are not been adequately consulted by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), about the impact of potential funding cuts and re-prioritisation.
The loss comes 5 weeks after I wrote to the Minister of Social Development, the Hon Anne Tolley, expressing serious concerns from Kapiti-based organisations, including Age Concern.
I have yet to receive a response to the questions posed to the Minister despite a standard promise to respond.
Less funding despite growing needs
I now find it deeply disappointing and alarming that an organisation like Age Concern, which has been providing this high quality, and audited care, has less funding to serve the community’s older people.
It does receive other funding (all contestable or donated), and will continue to operate, however the government’s decision will restrict what it can provide.
Kapiti already has a demographic where 26% of our population are over 65 years of age.
And this percentage, and its needs, is projected to grow.
Slow MSD action or inaction on important changes
While I understand the necessity of reviewing funding arrangements to gain efficiency outcomes, the information my office has been receiving shows that MSD staff have been inordinately slow in communicating the changes they intend to introduce.
This is not only in Kapiti but impacting nationally.
I’m told this reluctance is due to a decision not to create potential political problems in the period before the elections.
I have told the Minister that any changes and discontinuation of central government funding will have significant impacts on some of our most vulnerable and at risk groups including women, youth, and older people.
The inconsistency and untimely dissemination of information to NGOs of changes that would impact their service delivery is unacceptable.
So too is the slow response, or in some cases, lack of response, to requests for general information and tendering information and process.
The tardiness of communication is creating uncertainty within this sector.
I’m making a public call for the Minister’s office to respond to the issues I have raised. As also the Minister for Local Government, she should know that councils depend on the efficient working of our social organisations to ensure safe, healthy communities.