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Network News March 2019

Network News March 2019

Community Networks Aotearoa is an umbrella organisation for local community networks. Our goal is to empower and strengthen the community sector by supporting community networks across Aotearoa.

We:

  • Provide advice and support to members
  • Connect community networks nationally
  • Use our collective voice to advocate for policy change and raise awareness of issues affecting the community sector

To find out more visit our website here.

This newsletter covers topical issues in the community sector. In this newsletter:

  • Update from CNA Executive Officer, Ros Rice
  • Guest column – Paul Barber
  • Meet the members – Community Networks Wellington
  • Charities Act review
  • Save the date! CNA and NZCCSS joint conference 27th and 28th Aug 2019
  • IRD changes
  • On Air
  • To blog, or not to blog
  • Government reforms/consultations
  • Things to note before you go
  • Special offer for members

Update from CNA Executive Officer, Ros Rice

Tēnā Koutou Katoa

Here’s a quick update on what we’ve been up to.

There’s a number of significant reforms underway right now, including a review of the Charities Act which you can read more about in this newsletter. Over the next couple of months we’ll be busy feeding into these reforms and ensuring the interests and role of the community sector is at the forefront.

At the end of the newsletter there’s a list of government reforms / consultations, I encourage you to have your say. Many of these reforms will have far reaching consequences, so it’s important we take this opportunity to be heard.

There are two things happening right now that I want to highlight:

  • The Charities Act 2005 is being reviewed and the Department of Internal Affairs has released a discussion document, please do have your say, the review could have major consequences for charities. In this newsletter we’ve included information on the review, and an overview of what some of the issues for charities might be.
  • Do you know there have been changes to COGs funding? It appears that some money from rural areas has been reallocated to urban areas, leaving some rural COGs funding severely depleted. We are not aware of any consultation on this with communities, and we are looking into what has happened and why. Watch this space!

Also, please remember the joint conference of  CNA and NZ Council of Christian Social Services is on 27th and 28th August. All are welcome. Every year we’ve held the conference it has been a blast, and we expect the same with this year! You can read more about in this newsletter.

And lastly, as always, remember we’re here to help. If you’re a member of CNA and have a problem or issue, or just need some information, please don’t hesitate to contact me on (04) 472 3364 or eo@communitynetworksaotearoa.org.nz.

Guest column: Paul Barber
Some small steps to greater fairness: looking at tax from the community sector perspective

The pressures and stresses of the unfairness and inequalities in our social and economic system impact directly on the whānau, families and communities that community-based organisations work in. 

It plays out in two ways, firstly, poverty, hardship, and missed opportunities for the people living in those communities, and secondly, inadequate levels of funding and other resourcing for the organisations that want to make difference for their communities.

Rebalancing our social system is going to take some national-level change to the structures of our laws and systems that affect all of us every day. That is why the work of the Tax Working Group (TWG) is important. Tax affects everyone both in how much we pay ourselves and in the benefit we receive through government-funded services and support. The TWG is clear that tax plays a vital role in reducing inequality in our society but it is not doing this nearly as well as it was 30 years ago.

The final report of the TWG says about $8 billion dollars could be raised over the first five years of a capital gains tax (CGT). It has suggested ways that $8 billion could be redistributed through tax cuts to the lower income earners.

Research by polling company UMR done in 2018 shows two thirds of New Zealanders support a capital gains tax that excludes the family home.

New Zealand really is an oddity among the other wealthy countries because it does not have a meaningful capital gains tax or other wealth taxes. It is the wealthiest 20% of our population benefit from these un-taxed gains, they would be the ones who would have to pay almost all of any CGT. It seems perfectly reasonable to ask them to pay their fair share of tax.

Reducing tax for low and middle income earners and taxing the gains from capital income for the wealthy would be very welcome steps towards more fairness and greater equality in this country. But the TWG report itself admits the package it is proposing would only have a small impact on reducing inequality.

More needs to be done and soon for a fairer and more coherent tax system.

First priority has to be making the ways the tax and the welfare systems interact. The rate at which Working for Families or the Accommodation Supplement reduces as your income rises can mean losing most of every extra dollar earned through lost entitlements.

Secondly, a higher tax rate for the highest incomes (e.g. over $100,000) needs to be introduced to make the tax system more progressive. The TWG proposal give people earning over $100,00 the same tax break as those earning $22,500, but a higher tax rate for the high earners would correct this unfairness.

Thirdly, the people who most need help will not get it through income tax cuts. They will need significant increases in core welfare benefits that are indexed to wages to keep them out of poverty.

See here for full coverage of the TWG report and media reaction. Read the TWG Final Report and the many background papers on the TWG website here.

Paul Barber, Policy Advisor, NZ Council of Christian Social Services.

From time to time CNA invites individuals to contribute to our newsletter as a guest columnist. The thoughts, ideas and opinions shared by guest columnists are not necessarily those of CNA. 

Meet the Members – Community Networks Wellington 

Community Networks Wellington is a non-profit organisation that provides a shared platform for Wellington’s community organisations. We aim to connect services together and to be a voice for the community sector in Wellington City. Our network meets monthly and we share information in our newsletter. We also connect with key organisations and people in our region and work to determine, strengthen, and share our voice. ​

There is no doubt the current environment has a number of challenges for community organisations. More than ever it feels that there is a need for organisations that bring together people working in community to connect, share information and collaborate. We carry out an annual network survey that informs our work and direction, and is a basis for conversations with our local council and other government organisations. The top five priorities that came out of our last survey were mental health and addictions, housing and homelessness, social isolation, funding for the community sector and poverty and financial inequality.

To progress these key issues, last year in partnership with Wellington City Council, we organised the Wellington City Social Forum. The two-day social sector gathering brought together practitioners, policy-makers and providers of services. Over two days people joined together to discuss the issues and plot a way forward. The forum was an excellent opportunity to build a collaborative response to the city’s social needs.

More information on Community Networks Wellington can be found here.

Important – Charities Act Review 

The Charities Act 2005 is being reviewed to ensure that it is effective and fit for purpose. The Department of Internal Affairs has released a discussion document (consultation is open until 30 April 2019) and are holding a series of community meetings in March and April 2019 – more information on the review and meetings can be found here.

Sue Barker and Dave Henderson have received funding from a group of 12 community trusts and foundations to make sure there is a strong community voice in the review. Included below is information they have put together on why you should take part in the review. They have also provided information on issues charities should look out for in the review – to read a copy click here.

Review of the Charities Act 2005 – why you should get involved
Dave Henderson and Sue Barker

Every charity should be concerned about the way the current regime is being administered: good charities are being deregistered, good community organisations are being refused registration as a charity even though their funders require it, and up to one third of organisations applying for charitable status are being persuaded to withdraw their application.

At some stage, your charitable purposes may require you to point out deficiencies in government policy, yet many charities are careful what they say because of the threat of deregistration. The situation is not limited to advocacy; good charities are being affected in many other areas, including: social enterprise, economic development, sport, social housing, arts, and many others.

The review of the Charities Act could be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a world-leading framework of charity law in New Zealand: one that facilitates, rather than frustrates, charitable work.

However, it will not happen by accident: it is essential that charities get engaged with the review.

Save the date! 2019 CNA and NZ Council of Christian Social Services joint conference 27th and 28th August 2019

CNA and the NZ Council of Christian Social Services are holding our joint conference on the 27th and 28th August 2019 in Wellington. Everyone is welcome. The theme this year is Tātou tātou e (all of us together): The value of relationships in building wellbeing.

We know wellbeing is a key focus for this Government, so the conference is an excellent opportunity to hear about how the community sector fits into the Government’s priorities and highlight the important role of the sector in building wellbeing. The conference will be jam packed with thought-provoking speakers with lots of opportunities for connecting with others across the country.

Once registration opens we’ll let you know, we’ll also put information up on our website.

IRD changes

Please find below information from IRD on upcoming changes.

Start payday filing now

Has your organisations started payday filing yet? Payday filing will soon be compulsory, so get on board now. All employers need to be payday filing from 1 April, which means you will have to:

  • File employment information every payday instead of an Employer monthly schedule (IR348)
  • Provide new and departing employees’ address information, as well as their date of birth – if they have provided it to you, and
  • File electronically (from payday compatible software or through myIR) if your annual PAYE/ESCT is $50,000 or more.
  • Depending on the method you choose to start payday filing, you will need to do one of the following:
    • If you’re using software, check if it is payday filing compatible.
    • If you’re filing through myIR, make sure are familiar with the new Payroll Returns account in the My business section.
    • If you’re filing through paper, make sure you have the new forms to fill in.

Want more information? Inland Revenue’s payday filing website has plenty of resources to help, and why not register today for our webinar on 25 March? It’s a great opportunity to ask our panel of IR experts any burning questions you’ve got about payday filing.

Getting ready to support you

We’ve been busy holding dress rehearsals to test our timing and sequencing ahead of April, when the next wave of changes to make our tax system more straightforward will come into effect.

To minimise disruption for our customers and limit the time our services will be unavailable, the dates we have chosen take advantage of the Easter and Anzac Day public holidays. So what this will mean for you is our:

  • core systems, our front of office counters and our contact centres will shut down from the afternoon of Thursday 18th April 2019,
  • systems and services will be back open on the morning of Friday 26th April 2019.

Upgrading IR’s website – new content on beta site

We’re completely redeveloping our website, including the look and feel, content, and the platform it sits on, to provide our customers with a great online experience. We’re building content in sections on a beta, or test site, and our third round of content – income tax, will be available from early March.

We want to make the new IR website the best it can be, so, as with previous beta releases, we’re keen to receive your feedback.

You can access the beta site via a link on the current IR website’s homepage, as well as through links on the Child Support and Working for Families landing pages. In early March a link will also be available from the income tax landing page. Please take a look and complete the survey to share your thoughts.

New website goes live in April

Our new website will go live as part of our next transformation release and will be available from the morning of Friday 26 April. It will feature:

  • A new homepage
  • A new look and feel, and layout
  • Content previously tested on the beta site – Working for Families, Child Support, income tax
  • Global search across the new site and all content on the old site
  • Seamless navigation across both the new and old sites.

Not all content will be on the new website initially, but our global search will help you find what you’re after and the improved navigation and site structure will enable you to seamlessly move between the two sites.

We’ll continue to test further content on the beta site and then publish to the new site in the months following the April transformation release. We hope to have all our content on the new website by late 2019.

Click here and listen to Ros interview Jo Cribb on a governance project she’s involved in (along with CNA).

You can also listen to previous interviews, including Chris Glaudel from Community Housing Aotearoa, Paul Barber from the NZ Council of Christian Social Services and Rata Kamau from IRD.

To blog, or not to blog…

Here are the links to the latest ComVoices blogs on Community Scoop. We recommend a browsing through these blogs. They are fascinating reading as always…

Government reforms/consultations 

Current consultations

  • Important – The Charities Act 2005 is being reviewed to ensure that it is effective and fit for purpose. Have your say here. The Department of Internal Affairs is holding a series of community meetings in March and April 2019 about the review – more information can be found here.
  • The Safe and Effective Justice Programme Advisory Group – Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora – is visiting towns and cities across New Zealand to hear what people want from their criminal justice system. Find out more here (including a list of public forums).
  • The Government has announced a review of the New Zealand Health and Disability Sector. The review is keen to hear your thoughts on what system level changes could improve the performance of our health and disability system. For more information click here.

Other reforms to note

  • The Welfare Expert Advisory Group is advising on the future of the welfare system. The Group has delivered its advice to Ministers and the report will be made public late March / early April. More information can be found here.
  • Child Wellbeing Strategy – the strategy will commit Government to set and report on its actions to improve the wellbeing of all children and young people. For more information click here.
  • The Government is reforming the State Sector Act. More information on the review can be found here.
  • The Tax Working Group is examining the structure, fairness and balance of New Zealand’s tax system. The Government has now received the Group’s final report – more information and the report can be found here.
  • The Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Bill has had its first reading in Parliament. This Bill seeks to restore four aspects of community wellbeing in legislation (social, economic, environmental and cultural). For more information click here.
  • The Mental Health and Addiction Report has been released, the Government will formally respond in March. For more information click here.
  • The Government is considering the establishment of a sector-level bargaining system. This would enable unions and employers to develop Fair Pay Agreements that set minimum terms and conditions for all workers in an entire industry or occupation. The Government has established the Fair Pay Agreement Working Group to make recommendations on the design of this system. The Working Group has released its recommendations. For more information click here.

Things to note before you go

Strategic Grants have been running a number of online and face to face training opportunities, teaching best-practice processes, strategies and skills required to successfully and sustainably access grants funding for projects. Learn more and book online here. The next event is:

Special offer just for members of Community Networks Aotearoa and their networks – because we think you’re great!

Facing an increase in your insurance premium? Then Community Networks Aotearoa in association with Rothbury Insurance Brokers can help!

This is a package specifically created for community groups and organisations, with extremely discounted rates.

We are pleased to offer this opportunity not only to our member organisations but to their members as well. If you, or one of your network organisations, are interested in receiving an obligation free quote, please contact us for the special code you will require and Rothbury’s contact details.

And don’t forget, we’re here to help.  If you have any problems or issues, or just need some information, please don’t hesitate to contact Ros at the CNA office on Wellington (04) 472 3364 or eo@communitynetworksaotearoa.org.nz  Our staff and our Executive Committee are here to provide support to our membership and always welcome your contact.

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