Data obtained by the Green Party reveals why the Government must stop sanctioning beneficiaries immediately.
In response to a Parliamentary Written Question, the Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni confirmed that 114 people with a health condition or disability were sanctioned by the Ministry for Social Development for ‘failing to prepare for work’.
“Since the Green Party revealed the extent to which people are being sanctioned, the Minister has committed to end sanctions towards disabled people. While we welcome this as a step forward, the Government needs to get rid of punitive sanctions altogether,” says Ricardo Menendez March, Green Party spokesperson for social development.
“Labour has been quite right to criticise the National Party for wanting to sanction young and disabled people. But at the same time it is upholding a sanctions regime that is harming people in the same way National is proposing to. It is time Labour matched its policy with its rhetoric.
“Sanctions do not support people into meaningful employment or participation in our communities. Taking away people’s incomes only exacerbates poverty and pushes them into debt.
“Rather than using benefit sanctions the Green Party’s urge the Government to focus on improving their employment schemes to ensure they guarantee decent wages, safe working conditions and put more resources into frontline Work and Income staff.
“The Welfare Expert Advisory Group was unequivocal in its 2019 report that significant change is needed. But the Government has chosen not to lift people out of poverty immediately, instead making slow, incremental changes to our woefully inadequate support system.
“The longer Labour upholds our sanctions regime the more people will be harmed,” says Ricardo Menendez March.