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Four years too long for struggling families

Four years too long for struggling families - Greens

Green Social Services Spokesperson Sue Bradford Today Urged The Government To Begin Urgent Reform Of The Benefit System, Saying Families Living In Poverty Could Not Wait Three To Four Years For Government To Act.

Recently released briefing papers from the Ministry of Social Development show that the benefit system is not providing adequate support for low income families, that many are missing out on benefits because the system is so confusing, that the real value of family support has decreased by 5.5 per cent since 1998 and that nearly a third of New Zealand children are living in poverty.

"I am really disturbed with comments by Minister Maharey that changes to the benefit system would be expensive and that he hoped to address these issues with change over the next three to four years," said Ms Bradford.

"Three to four years of families not receiving benefits they are entitled to and nearly a third of our kids growing up in poverty is completely unacceptable - especially under a Labour Government."

Ms Bradford said the Greens wanted the Social Security Act rewritten now, core benefits adjusted so that all families could get by with dignity and for the minimum wage to be increased to $10 per hour.

Ms Bradford said the fact that Labour were prepared to take their time to address crucial issues that contributed to poverty in New Zealand was a reason why the Greens could not vote confidence in this Government.

"It is just not good enough to say reforming the benefit system will cost money and therefore we need to take our time while children and families in this country do not have enough money to get by.

"The Greens call upon this Government to make addressing the problems with the benefit system a number one priority and to find the money that is required to make these changes right now," said Ms Bradford.

"Our children and our families simply cannot afford to wait for this Government to sort out its priorities."

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