Budget 2022: Greens call for greater ambition to address inequality crisis

  • Green Party reaffirms call for liveable incomes and wealth tax
  • Calls on Government to cancel debt owed to MSD for hardship assistance such as benefit advances, and for over-payments

The Green Party welcomes the support for people on low incomes Budget 2022 but says more must be done to help those on the lowest incomes, including by guaranteeing liveable incomes for all.

“If we are serious about ensuring everybody is healthy and thriving we need to increase incomes to ensure families aren’t getting sick because they can’t afford food or a medical check-up,” says Ricardo Menéndez March, Green spokesperson for social development and employment.

“Excluding people on the benefit from additional cost of living payments is a disservice to people struggling to make ends meet. The Green Party is calling on the Government to extend this payment to people on the benefit, make it permanent and for it to reflect the actual shortfall of incomes people face.

“The burden of high inflation is felt by those whānau on the lowest incomes, especially our beneficiaries who feel it the most. When incomes are low, even a small increase in the cost of food and other essentials can be the difference between making ends meet and not - and lately we’ve seen huge increases in costs.

“We welcome the decision to unlock child support payments for all parents and caregivers as recommended by the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.

“But communities are still waiting for action on the other recommendations.

“The changes to dental grants will ensure more people are able to access much needed treatment. But more should be done to prevent dental problems occurring in the first place. 

“One of the simplest ways to do this is to boost people’s incomes, which are one of the biggest determinants of oral health.  

“A wealth tax would comfortably raise enough revenue to eradicate poverty, and would make our tax system fairer. 

“The Government should also immediately cancel debt owed to MSD for hardship assistance such as benefit advances, and for over-payments.

“Half a million New Zealanders currently have debt to MSD because they are not able to meet their basic expenses and are forced to take out loans, even for basics like power bills or dental treatment. 

“Debt repayments, which are higher for women and Māori on average, are currently reducing people’s weekly income to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. Wiping the debt to the Ministry of Social Development would provide a meaningful boost to incomes and alleviate cost of living pressures on families,” says Ricardo Menéndez March. 

The Green Party plan to support all people to live with dignity includes:

  • A Guaranteed Minimum Income for all
  • Expanding and simplifying Working for Families, so more money goes to families who need it, especially those receiving income from benefits
  • Expanding income related rent subsidies
  • An immediate rent freeze and meaningful rent controls
  • Breaking up the supermarket duopoly, and
  • Cancelling debt owed to MSD for hardship assistance such as benefit advances, and for over-payments.

ENDS

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