A coalition of anti-poverty groups have challenged the government to exclude people on income support from today’s cost-of-living ‘helicopter payments’, saying they have chosen to leave families living in the deepest poverty further behind.
Cost of living payments will not be made to those in receipt of the winter energy payment, except those in receipt of basic benefits and the New Zealand Superannuation.
The group says this is of particular concern because of evidence in today’s budget documents that the gap between low-income and middle-income households is set to widen in years to come.
“The budget addressed 0 of the 7 key steps we asked the government to take to close the gap between the cost of living and the incomes of people on income assistance,” the spokeswoman said. Fairr Future, Brooke Stanley Pao. “People on benefits are facing big deficits every week – they are suffering and the situation is urgent. Changes to emergency dental care and child support are long overdue and welcome, but it’s disappointing that these changes won’t take effect immediately.
The group says that while the extra $24 on average from child support payments will help, it won’t solve the big deficit these families face. Figures published by the Fairer Future in March this year showed that even after the April 1, 2022 benefit increase, people on income support would still face gaps between income and costs, single-parent households facing average weekly deficits of up to $239.
“Income assistance has not kept up with inflation and the cost of living,” says Stanley Pao. “Today’s announcements leaving out those on income support are a slap in the face for some people in our community. It is high time for the government to finally raise basic benefit levels to the living income level and fully implement the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG).
Statistics released as part of Budget 2022 also show that the government fell short of its child poverty targets ahead of housing costs, which measure the gap between low-income and middle-income households.
“The government risks driving a gap between those who desperately need help and those on meager working incomes, and today’s cost of living payments could widen that gap by excluding people on welfare benefits. base,” said Max Harris, another spokesperson for the Fairer Future collective. .
“But it’s not too late for the government to act and deliver the transformative change it has itself said it wants and which many vulnerable New Zealanders desperately need,” Harris added.
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