Thank God the health impacts of this pandemic have been minimised. But the social and economic impacts are massive and will be felt for a long time to come. The real effects of the 2007/08 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), sparked by banking and financial markets collapsing, took several years to truly be understood. For example, The Salvation Army’s foodbank distribution continued to steadily increase after 2007/08, peaking a decade later in 2017, when more than 62,000 food parcels were given out, and only slightly decreasing in the last few years. The real social impacts of the GFC to employment, unemployment, housing, welfare support, child poverty and other social issues took several years to fully comprehend. This Covid-19 pandemic will be exactly the same. Therefore, we should not and cannot settle for the new social ‘normal’ emerging in New Zealand from this crisis, even as we wait to see these impacts develop.
The focus for Covid-19, has been on immediate and urgent needs, and rightfully so. This is seen in our food bank numbers and the massive uptake of the Government’s assistance packages. But shifting to a recovery approach is now necessary. Nehemiah was an Old Testament prophet who knew a thing or two about recovery. The walls had been destroyed of his beloved city of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, and so they were open to attack and ruin. So, he led a huge rebuilding project, using Scripture, moral standards and challenging his people to work hard and come together. The project was successful.
Budget 2020 offers great opportunities for targeted and effective public investment that could bring substantial and long-term recovery and rebuilding. This third Salvation Army Covid-19 Social Impact Dashboard assesses the current social impacts, but also looks forward and offers recommendations about what a social recovery and rebuilding-focused Budget 2020 should look like, particularly as the Government releases their Budget on 14 May. Following this, our next Social Impact Dashboard (released 22 May) will evaluate the Budget 2020 through the lens of the five areas on our Dashboard: food security, financial hardship, housing, addictions, and income support and employment.
Both the report and dashboard are available for download at the bottom of this page.