Benefit Rights Service welcomes regular reports on poverty
Press release: embargoed to Noon, Saturday, November
Graham Howell, spokesperson for the Benefit Rights Service, welcomes news that the Children’s Commissioner is going to produce regular reports on the level of child poverty in New Zealand. He states that it is vital for the public to be kept aware of the plight of the 250,000 children living below the poverty line.
The public can then keep the pressure on our government to do more about reducing the impacts of poverty and numbers in poverty.
Mr Howell notes that the Minister responsible, Paula Bennett, is well aware of the numbers, and while paid work is one way forward the reality is that we do not have full employment and we have not had full employment for nearly forty years – and the current government is not committed to full employment. Her claims that beneficiaries should simply get a job as the way out of poverty is a cruel hoax as insufficient jobs exist for all beneficiaries.
Miss Bennett needs to get over her guilt trip about being on the benefit as a young mother and make changes to how her programmes and directives are written and implemented.
Issues such as:
v Increasing the amount that is available for grants for essential needs.
v Increasing the funds available for parents of school children so they can take part in all school activities such as visiting museums, farms or other off-school site activities.
v To ensure grants for school uniforms are freely available.
v To fund computers in homes so that children of beneficiaries have the same chances of access to information on the internet as their school mates whose parents are lucky enough to have paid work.
v To ensure take up of hardship for those entitled such as Temporary Additional Support increases from the appalling low 62% of those the Ministry itself says are entitled.
Hoping for a genuine increase in main benefits is a dream that neither Paula Bennett, Bill English nor John Key will consider, but Miss Bennett has the power to reduce some of the hardship and harm caused by poverty on those children whose parents are on a benefit.
She has simply got to stop blaming these children’s parents. She’s got to get over her guilt trip of her beneficiary past and implement policies that will reduce poverty for children whose parents do not yet have paid employment because waiting for employment to rescue each and every child is a cruel and wicked hoax.