The Green Party is calling on the Government to clear debt people are being forced into by MSD, and support those doing it toughest.
“Wiping debt to MSD would help people cover the essentials, protect against predatory lenders and give people the freedom and resources to do what is right for their communities,” says Green Party social development spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March.
“Right now thousands of people are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table. Even pre-pandemic people struggling to make ends meet were already trapped in a cycle of debt with the very agencies that are supposed to support them.
“A new report released today by the Fairer Future coalition shows that 1 in 10 people around Aotearoa are struggling with the burden of having debt owed to MSD.
“Much of the support provided to people by the Government is through loans for basic essentials like school uniforms and dental work. When people are forced to repay this loan, it reduces their weekly income even further, which pushes them into a vicious cycle of more debt. Data also shows women and Māori are disproportionately trapped in this cycle.
“Now, in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle there have been reports of lenders praying on people who have been affected by the cyclone.
“Wiping MSD debt will put, on average, the equivalent of the winter energy payment back into people’s pockets. At the same time, we need to increase benefits, double the civil defence payment and provide grants for unexpected essentials rather than loans, so no-one is forced into debt.
“This would put money back into the hands of people on the lowest incomes and give them dignity to live without unnecessary debt holding them back,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.