Government must end benefit sanctions and cancel debt

The Government needs to end benefit sanctions, cancel debt to the Ministry of Social Development, and immediately lift benefits, says the Green Party.

“The tools to lift every family and child out of poverty exist, the Government just needs to use them,” says Green Party social development spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March.

“The Greens would ensure everyone has enough to live their lives with dignity, by increasing benefits to liveable levels, ending sanctions, wiping debt, doubling Civil Defence Payments, and increasing the amount people can access for hardship grants.

Quarterly benefit statistics released today show that benefit sanctions have increased by 40 percent and benefit advances have increased by 12.1 percent on last year.

“Sanctions do not support people into meaningful employment or participation in our communities. Taking away people’s incomes only exacerbates poverty and pushes them into debt.

“We’re concerned that the use of sanctions has increased so much, especially when the Minister has said she doesn’t support them.

“Pressure from rising prices across food, housing, and other basic essentials has been disproportionately impacting low income families in Aotearoa for far too long now.

“The increase to benefit advances shows more families are being forced into a cycle of debt just so they can afford the essentials. It’s extremely concerning that as we head into winter people are going into debt with the very agency that is supposed to support them.

“It’s simply not good enough to say that we don’t have the money, or the solutions, to help people.

“This cannot continue. The Greens are clear that bold, permanent solutions to lift people out of poverty exist. We just need to use them.

“If we taxed wealth fairly and properly, it would raise enough revenue to lift families out of poverty.

“Aotearoa needs a Government that will take urgent action to end poverty, and this is only possible with more Green MPs,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.

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