The Green Party is calling on the Government to simplify the welfare system by getting rid of the complicated calculations that mean many people will not receive Friday’s benefit increase in full.
“A simpler, fairer approach to income support is an essential part of the Green Party’s vision of an Aotearoa where everyone has enough to live on,” says Ricardo Menéndez March, Green spokesperson for social development and employment.
“Much will be said today and tomorrow about the benefit increases being introduced on Friday. But the truth is, for many, the headline numbers won’t match the reality. This is because of unnecessarily complicated rules set by the Government that claw back some of the additional income people will receive.
“Complicated rules known as abatement thresholds mean that supplementary payments many people receive – such as help to pay the rent – can be reduced, or “clawed back,” if their main benefit increases. In other words, as the main benefit goes up, other essential income support comes down.
“Hidden within the Government presentation of Friday’s increase in the main benefit will be the uncomfortable fact that abatement thresholds are not being raised. As a result, many people will miss out on receiving the full benefit increases, with some families potentially receiving minimal gains.
“The welfare system overseen and tinkered with by successive Governments is confusing, time consuming and hard-to-navigate – and it deprives people of the resources they need to thrive. In the four years since the Welfare Expert Advisory Group published its recommendations, the cost of putting food on the table or paying the bills has skyrocketed. Matching the WEAG’s recommended benefit levels four years late is not good enough.
“The Green Party wants to simplify the welfare system so that everyone has enough to look after their families and contribute to their communities. We would do this by immediately increasing core benefits to liveable levels, making Working for Families more universal, and fixing the abatement thresholds.
“Some of the most important yet undervalued work in society, such as caregiving, is performed by people receiving a main benefit. While the National Party wants to label these communities as bottom feeders, the Greens recognise everyone’s right to a life with dignity - and we would build a welfare system worthy of that right,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.