Most of us want an increase in income support rates

Results of polls show 69 percent of us want the government to increase income support rates for those on low incomes and not in paid work.

The UMR poll was commissioned by a super-group of NGOs who are pushing to release families from the severe constraints of poverty.

The group includes unions, social service NGOs, kaupapa Māori groups, churches, child poverty experts and other organisations across Aotearoa.

“Across New Zealand we are united in recognising that the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has not fallen evenly, and this poll confirms that as a nation we are no longer willing to tolerate growing inequalities,” says Jacqui Southey from Save the Children.

“We all want to work together and do our bit to ensure all of our team of five million have liveable incomes. We’re in this together.”

By keeping income support rates low the Government is choosing to lock more and more people into poverty, with the heaviest burden falling on Māori, Pacific peoples, women, disabled people and children, the group says.

“This poll shows that ensuring liveable incomes for all would be a popular move for the government, across the board, as well as the right thing to do,” Janet McAllister from Child Poverty Action Group says.

She says 66 percent of those with household incomes over $100,000 agree income support should be increased for people who are less financially fortunate than themselves.

“Our compassionate and inclusive approach to caring for the most vulnerable during COVID-19 outbreaks served us well. We must take the same common sense approach to ensure everyone, whether they are working, caring for children, living with a disability or illness, learning, or have lost their jobs before or because of COVID-19, has a liveable income,” she says.

This month’s Stats NZ figures show annual inflation for beneficiaries was almost three times higher than for all households in 2020.

Last week’s Salvation Army’s State of the Nation report 2021 paints a poor picture.

It shows an additional 23,000 children are living in households relying on income support. The report also outlined how the economic impact of Covid-19 looks set to further exacerbate unacceptable levels of poverty and inequity.

Dee-Ann Wolferston, CEO of Te Kāhui Mana Ririki says Māori are disproportionately represented in the unskilled and low-paid jobs in our communities.

They are therefore are more likely to be impacted by job losses as result of COVID-19 according to a BERL study.

A particular concern is family violence escalating as result of cost pressures, job losses and housing shortages.

“In the past 12 months family violence has increased in areas as much as 33 percent, within which Māori are disproportionately impacted. Raising income support rates will reduce financial pressures for whānau Maori who are already in crisis,” Wolferston says.

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to govern for all New Zealanders but right now many members of our communities are being locked into poverty by low income support rates,” says Ruby Powell from ActionStation.

“The time for excuses is up.”


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News category: New Zealand.