The tools exist to lift every family out of poverty – and as costs continue to rise it is more urgent than ever that we use them, the Green Party says.
Speaking on Morning Report today, the Minister of Finance acknowledged that benefit payments are unlikely to keep pace with inflation.
“Poverty is a political choice. As things continue to get tough for those on the lowest incomes, we should choose to put meeting people’s basic needs ahead of untaxed wealth,” says the Green Party spokesperson for social development, Ricardo Menéndez March.
“People on benefits were already excluded from the Government’s cost of living payment – which we said at the time was unfair. Now we’re hearing that their benefits may not even keep pace with inflation.
“When benefits don’t keep up with rising prices, people get poorer and are forced to make impossible decisions about whether to feed their kids or pay the bills. More families are getting into debt with the agencies that are supposed to support them and pushed to food banks just to survive.
“The Green Party would provide immediate relief to those struggling, by lifting benefits to liveable levels and indexing benefits and Working for Families to either median wage or inflation, whichever is highest, so that people can make ends meet.
“Right now, the Government’s ability to support people on the lowest incomes is constrained by the rules it has set itself about raising revenue.
“The Green Party is clear that we should tax wealth properly and use the additional revenue to support people living on the lowest incomes.
“That way we could provide immediate support – and invest in long term solutions, like increasing benefits to liveable levels, increasing and expanding Working for Families, and expanding the Income Related Rent Subsidy to local councils.
“No one should be struggling to pay the power bills or feed their kids in this country. People on the lowest incomes need a government that is committed to liveable incomes for everyone - and with more Green MPs we can make it happen,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.