The Green Party welcomes the income support increases the Prime Minister announced today, but says the Government needs to go further, faster to ease the hardship many families are experiencing right now.
“The support announced today will help. But Labour should have gone further and increased income support more quickly, and enough to ensure every family has enough to put food on the table, pay their rent, and keep their home warm,” says Green Party spokesperson for Social Development & Employment Ricardo Menéndez March.
“These changes fall far short of what the Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommended, and show a lack of urgency when it comes to lifting families out of poverty.
“Making this announcement today suggests the Government knows this is a problem, but it has fallen short of what is required to fix it. If the Government is serious about reducing how much people need to make ends meet, then it needs to significantly increase benefits and stop tinkering at the edges.
“The Government has also chosen to make families wait until April next year before any change comes in, with no immediate relief for families doing it hard during lockdown. That is despite the fact that rising inflation has compounded the impact of COVID lockdowns and made the situation even harder for thousands of families by driving up the costs of living. Food, rent, and power will all be getting more expensive, yet people’s ability to earn stays the same.
“Once we dig into the details of this announcement, it looks like the Government is window dressing. Meanwhile behind the front door are tens of thousands of families struggling to make ends meet.
“For a start, the Government is already spending more on extra hardship assistance top-ups each year, than the income support increases announced today. We can choose to lift incomes more so that families don’t need top-up food grants to survive.
“Instead of increasing the abatement rate, the government also needs to shift towards universalising Working for Families. Hidden beneath the headline of this announcement are the thousands of people who are out of work, disabled, or without children, most of whom will see no change at all as a result of these changes,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.
The Green Party’s comprehensive Poverty Action Plan shows it’s possible to lift all families out of poverty, instead of tinkering around the edges of a broken system.