The Green Party is renewing its calls for benefit sanctions to be removed after new research found some people do not understand why they were sanctioned or what they can do to avoid it.
“Everyone deserves to live with dignity, but benefit sanctions are unkind and are punishing vulnerable people who just need a social safety net that actually helps them,” says Ricardo Menéndez March, Green Party spokesperson for Social Development & Employment.
“The research from the Beneficiary Advisory Service in Christchurch reveals real stories of people struggling with a system that is far too complex, unfair, and not fit for purpose.
“While people can have sanctions reviewed, this process is often lengthy and does not address the immediate needs someone has. Having to wait weeks for a review while in hardship leads to further stress and people struggling.
“The Welfare Expert Advisory Group was unequivocal in its 2019 report that significant change is needed. But the Government has actively decided against lifting more people out of poverty sooner by making slow, incremental changes to our woefully inadequate support system.
“We need a simplified support system, like a Guaranteed Minimum Income, to give people peace of mind knowing if they need help, it is available without conditions.
“Ensuring people receive the support they need to thrive shouldn’t be conditional.”