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Lifting lowest incomes is vital to increase wellbeing

a woman holding an empty wallet
Posted September 23, 2019

Today the we have another chance to do the right thing to really lift incomes for thousands of people in this country who are missing out, says The Salvation Army Te Ope Whakaora.

We strongly support the call for the government to put children and whānau wellbeing at the heart of welfare contained in the petition from Child Poverty Action Group and Action Station that was handed to the Prime Minister’s electorate office today.

Everyone in this country wants to have the chance to really thrive and do well. We are the kind of people who value fairness and compassion., No-one wants children and their whānau to go without the things they need to do well.

Unfortunately, the reality we are seeing everyday in the communities where The Salvation Army works, is that many people, including thousands of children, are still going without the essentials. They do not have enough to pay the rent, to buy decent food, to go to the doctor, or to pick up their prescriptions because there just isn’t enough money coming in.

Over the past year:
•    More than 75 per cent of people and whanau using our services were receiving a benefit;
•    About 7 per cent of our clients said they had no income.

The best and most direct way to help people is for the government to move quickly to further implement the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group and lift incomes for those who rely on government income support so they can live with dignity. While some positive steps have already been taken, more needs to be done. The government needs to:

1.    Raise core benefit rates substantially as well as making it easier for people to move into paid work by increasing the amount people can earn before their government support is reduced, so that they really are better off in paid work.

2.    Remove the many harmful sanctions linked to benefits punish whānau and families by taking away income for reasons like missing appointments or not meeting strict work obligations. This results in deeper hardship for those whose income is already not enough.

3.    Use a fairer test of when a couple is in a relationship to encourage building healthy and stable family lives, as well as allowing people to keep more of their savings for future security and emergencies.

4.    Change the fundamental principles that underpin our welfare system so they are based on compassion and caring.

At least some of these changes can begin tomorrow – if the government so chooses. We urge Minister Carmel Sepuloni and the whole of Parliament to do the right thing to create a better future for families, whānau and all those in need.

The petition Put children and whānau wellbeing at the heart of welfare is online at https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petitions/make-our-welfare-system-great....

Media enquiries:

Lt. Col. Ian Hutson, Director
Paul Barber, Senior Social Policy Analyst 027 473 2006
The Salvation Army Te Ope Whakaora
Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit

Louise Parry
Territorial Media Officer 021 945 337
The Salvation Army Te Ope Whakaora