New figures obtained by the Green Party show that the amount of debt owed by beneficiaries to the Government is skyrocketing.
Before National was elected in 2008, just 49 per cent of beneficiaries owed money to WINZ, at an average of $2,021 per person. Now 60 per cent of beneficiaries have an average debt of $2,584.
“We clearly have a broken system when New Zealanders who are already in dire financial circumstances are racking up debt to a Government with a multi-billion dollar budget,” Green Party social development spokesperson Jan Logie said today.
“The bottom line is that for many New Zealanders a benefit isn’t enough to get by on so they’re forced to borrow hundreds or thousands of dollars from the Government, just to put a meal on the table or a roof over their families’ heads.
“The Government made a lot of noise last year about raising benefits by $25 a week – the simple fact is that few beneficiaries received that increase, and for those that did it hasn’t solved the problem of having enough to get by.
“The Government’s failure to fix the housing crisis means that once housing costs are accounted for, families are desperate for help to cover other essentials, like paying the power bill, getting a WoF for the car, or buying school uniforms.
“The Government is creating a whole new problem in families’ lives when they are forced to take out loans and then have to pay that money back,” said Ms Logie.
A regional breakdown of beneficiary debt to June 2016 is attached.