Groundhog Day as National once again punishes people on benefits

The coalition Government has today conceded that it did not consider the impact of its benefit changes on children. 

“It is unconscionable that Cabinet Ministers took the decision to cut yearly increases to benefits, made worse by the disregard of the harm it would do to children,” says the Green Party’s social development spokesperson, Ricardo Menéndez March.

While forcing benefit changes through urgency without proper scrutiny, the Minister responsible, Louise Upston told Parliament in answer to questions from the Greens that she did not request a child impact assessment.

“What we are seeing is the familiar pattern of neglect that accompanies every National Government. This Government could not even be bothered properly assessing the impact its cruel benefit changes would have on children.

“Thousands of families will once again be left struggling to make ends meet and forced to make impossible choices between heating their home and putting food on the table.

“Every election, National ask for the support of New Zealanders, only to turn their backs as soon as they get into power where they prioritise policies to cater to the wealthiest and the most powerful.

“Everybody should have enough to cover the weekly shop, pay the rent, or cover unexpected costs – even when times are tough.

“The Green Party will continue to push to put an end to the political football of how to best increase benefits annually.

“Today, I proposed amendments that would have seen benefits and the family tax credit adjusted on an annual basis to whatever is highest between inflation and wages.

“This would have protected decent yearly increases to benefits and put an end to National and Labour bickering over which formula to use, at the expense of our communities. 

“What National is doing instead will widen the gap between what people in paid employment and people on the benefit earn.

“The Government has an opportunity to put an end to people on the benefit being scapegoated and used for political purposes by supporting our amendment and ensuring incomes rise adequately each year independent of the economic circumstances,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.

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