Fuel , Food, Unemployment to hit Beneficiaries
ROTORUA PEOPLES ADVOCACY CENTRE
Attn: Cherie Taylor. Rotorua Daily Post.
Fuel costs, Food Prices and Unemployment to hit Rotorua Beneficiaries Hard.
After a visit to the Rotorua Service Centre a senior MSD national official for Work& Income quipped that the queues of people seeking help at the Pukuatua St service centre “would soon be reaching all the way to Tutanekai St”.
MP Sue Bradford picked up on this ‘off the cuff’ comment of the MSD official and the story went out on National radio. Work & Income (W & I) management at Rotorua have since moved quickly to deal with the sharp increase in demand and have “restructured” their reception area and practices in order to deal with the persistent long queues evident since January 2008.
Numbers of staff on duty at the Work & Income Reception area have been doubled and special staff have been assigned to deal with those seeking emergency food assistance and other emergency applications to a waiting area for speedy attention.
RPAC spokesperson Paul Blair said:
“ The measures were certainly required, I haven’t seen queues like this since the peak unemployment days of the 80’s and the beneficiary bashing hey days of Jenny Shipley in the 90’s.
Some economists are predicting a doubling of unemployment overall and in Rotorua that could easily equate to a trebling in unemployment due to a sharp downturn in tourism as the global recession predicted bites deeper.
Workers and their Unions are clearly concerned about the rising fuel and food prices and at least have some bargaining power to push for wage increases to help balance the soaring living costs.
The City’s Social Security Claimants and their children however, will be facing food insecurity and sharp increases in already poverty line subsistence levels.
The government has shot itself in the foot by abolishing special benefit which previously enabled assistance to go to those trapped, through no fault of their own, in abject poverty. The government abolished its own discretionary powers and replaced them with a rigid instrument called Temporary Assistance Supplement.
RPAC is gearing up for food demonstrations if the situation deteriorates further.