Number of struggling families growing under National

A huge leap in Special Needs Grants show that more and more New Zealanders cannot afford the basics of life, the Green Party said today.

Figures released from the Ministry of Social Development late yesterday show that in the last year there has been a 46.4 percent increase in Special Needs Grants payments, which people apply for to pay for things including emergency housing and food. The total amount of hardship assistance provided by the Government has increased 27.4 percent in the same timeframe.

The amount paid in special Needs Grants for Auckland has increased 69.2 percent over the last year.

“People are desperate to put a roof over their heads and food on the table, and are having to ask for help from the Government to do that,” Green Party Social Development spokesperson Jan Logie said.  

“It’s clear it’s getting tougher for people, both those in and out of paid work, to provide the basics.

“The Government was forced to create the Emergency Housing Special Needs Grant after we saw people struggling to find anywhere other than their car to live.  

“The new grant was introduced after reports of families running up huge debts to stay in motels because of a lack of affordable and available accommodation. The fact that, since last year, this category of grants has increased by 46.4 percent shows the huge need out there.

“Recoverable grants and advances on benefits are also up 25.2 percent and 17.9 percent respectively. When people are living this close to the breadline, how on earth are they going to pay back these debts?

“People’s debts for having to stay in a motel should be wiped by the Government. The Government is responsible for the housing crisis, and vulnerable families shouldn’t have to continue to pay that price.

“It is particularly disturbing to see the large raise in Recoverable Assistance Payments, which are for non-beneficiaries, increase in amount by 25.2 per cent. This shows the increasing pressure being put upon working families who are needing emergency assistance.

“The Government boasts that they have ‘generously’ put up benefits, but yet all of the evidence is telling us that the need is still increasing. The Government needs to take a good look at what it is doing that is causing this increase in need,” said Ms Logie.

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