We have a poverty crisis in New Zealand, we need to do more

The Green Party is calling for the Government to do more for New Zealanders who continue to miss out, as main benefits are set to rise by less than $8 a week tomorrow, Thursday 1 April (at the start of the financial year).

“We have a poverty crisis in New Zealand, and we must go further and faster to deliver income support that enables everyone to live with dignity,” says Green Party spokesperson for Social Development & Employment Ricardo Menéndez March.

“The Government currently expects a single person over 25 years old to be able to get by on just $250.74 a week, and tomorrow they’re supposed to celebrate that rising to $258.51. That extra eight dollars isn’t even enough to buy a block of cheese.

“It is disingenuous of the Government to continue to say indexing benefits to wages is the best thing they could have done – even the Children’s Commissioner said they need to be bold and courageous, and actually lift benefits. Indexation of benefits to wages means little without a substantive lift in core benefits to close the gap which has continued for decades.

“For the one-third of New Zealanders who rent the roof over their heads, and on average spend more of their income on housing costs than those who own a home, tinkering around the edges is not enough to help those whānau who were already struggling to get by, especially in the last 12 months since COVID-19 hit.

“And when we have Auckland median house prices rising by $100,000 in February alone, we need to do more.

“The Welfare Expert Advisory Group said our current welfare system is ‘no longer fit for purpose and needs fundamental change’.

“The Greens have a plan to support all students and people out of work, no matter what, with a Guaranteed Minimum Income of at least $325 per week. If there is anything we have learned from COVID-19, is that bold, urgent action to change the system for our collective wellbeing is possible.

“We are asking the Government to urgently raise core benefits, as was called for by their Welfare Expert Advisory Group in 2019.

“Labour must implement the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group. Incremental increases just keep New Zealanders in poverty.”

ENDS

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