Punitive benefit plan will force more into poverty

National’s latest cynical election promise of sanctions for beneficiaries is a distraction from the pressing issue of poverty in New Zealand, the Green Party said today.

Bill English announced that beneficiaries who fail drug tests or refuse rehabilitation will have their benefits cut by 50 per cent or more.

“National’s latest cynical announcement ignores the evidence of how to properly treat drug addiction and will punish already vulnerable people,“ said Green Party inequality spokesperson Marama Davidson.

“We know that sanctions are expensive to administer and push people further into poverty.

“If you believe that people deserve help to overcome drug addiction, why would you turn around and push them under the poverty line if they struggle to overcome those habits?

“In the year to March, only 170 beneficiaries across the country were sanctioned for drug use – this is not the crisis that National are claiming it is.

“What is really shocking is the thousands of people living in cars and relying on foodbanks to have enough to eat, and cutting benefits will only make this worse.

“We believe that no one in New Zealand, whether they are working or not, should be living in poverty.

“The Green Party’s plan to end poverty will make a real difference to thousands of people’s lives and ensure that all families in New Zealand can afford to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head and pay their power bill,” said Ms Davidson. 

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