Study finds families locked in poverty

Families locked in poverty will stay that way despite the 1 April benefit increases, a new study by the Fairer Future Collaboration discovered.

Fairer Future Collaboration spokesperson Brooke Pao Stanley, of Auckland Action Against Poverty, says it’s time for the Government to “level up” income support so everyone can live with dignity. Poverty was forcing people into impossible situations. There are long queues at foodbanks (pictured),

Those working in the field, like Liz Davies, agree. Davies is the general manager of SociaLink, the umbrella organisation for the Western Bay of Plenty’s social agencies and charities.

“As we are seeing more working people accessing local services such as Foodbank for the first time, you can only imagine how much people relying on benefits are struggling.

“Without sufficient income to cover the basic costs of life, many people inevitably end up in debt which makes it harder to climb out of poverty,” she says.

Davies says local social service providers are working “very hard” to support and empower people on low incomes and benefits.

Ensuring people have a liveable income would make a huge difference to whānau who then wouldn’t require food parcels and would be more likely to access health services, she says.

The shortfall

An update of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s (WEAG) modelling on what income is needed to meet basic costs shows the difference between what people get and need.

It found the majority of people receiving income support still won’t have nearly enough to live on, even after the April 2022 income support increases.

The update compared WEAG family cost estimates, inflation-adjusted for 2022, to Government estimates of April 2022 benefit entitlements.

The result? Some of the country’s worst-off families face shortfalls of up to $300 a week.

Twelve out of 13 families won’t be able to meet their costs. Nine won’t be able to meet core essential costs like rent, food and transport.

Here’s an example. A couple with three children receiving the Jobseeker allowance need around $300 extra a week to meet their total costs.

These costs include children’s sport and a contingency fund for unexpected bills.

Even if you pared everything back to their core costs, they couple still need an additional $165 a week.

Here’s another example. A sole parent with three children will require around $240 more a week to meet total costs. Take away everything except the core items and there’s still a $111 shortfall each week.

A single person receiving the Jobseeker allowance and sharing a house will need about $90 more every week to cover all costs.

“We urge the Government to do the right thing and ensure liveable support for all,” Stanley says.

Key changes needed

The Fairer Future Collaboration is calling for seven key changes to income support. These include:

  • increasing core benefit levels to the standard of liveable incomes
  • raising the minimum wage to the living wage
  • increasing the Disability Allowance
  • overhauling relationship rules
  • removing sanctions
  • wiping debt owed to the Ministry of Social Development
  • improving access and supplementary supports to meet basic needs.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , , , , , ,