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Labour’s division -report shows inequalities

Labour’s division -report shows inequalities increasing

It is unacceptable that the gap between the haves and the have-nots has continued to increase under the Labour Government, Green MP Sue Bradford said today.

Ms Bradford, the Green Party’s Social Services spokesperson, said that increasing income inequality and poor housing posed the two biggest social issues facing the country as the ‘booming’ economy was continuing to leave New Zealanders behind.

“It’s all very well to have a strong economy but too many New Zealanders are being left out in the cold,” said Ms Bradford.

“While the Labour Government have performed far better than their predecessors, it has failed to halt the deepening social divisions in New Zealand caused by income inequalities. I urge the Government to increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour immediately to help lower-income people adequately meet their needs.

“Average income has increased but the lower income band has stayed virtually static, meaning more people are struggling to meet the rising cost of living that comes with an expanding economy. The result is all too apparent with the housing crunch a prime example.

“Housing is a critical issue that has emerged from this report. It should be of no comfort to any New Zealander that 10 per cent of our population live in overcrowded accommodation, and it’s shameful that 17 per cent of all children under 10-years are growing up in overcrowded households.

“Children growing up in overcrowded households are far more likely to suffer from poor health and reduced educational achievement. Their life chances drop and the poverty cycle claims more victims,” she said.

“It’s ironic that the Government is committed to building ever more prisons without addressing the housing needs of our young, sick and elderly people. It is a cold reality that many people caught in the desperate income and housing trap now will be ending up in prison sooner or later.”

Ms Bradford highlighted New Zealand’s appalling child abuse statistics, ranked near the bottom of the OECD table and getting worse, as the face of desperation caused by widening inequalities.

“It’s a realisation of the desperate state that many families find themselves in modern New Zealand. Unable to cope with spiralling rents and food bills, too many New Zealanders are taking their frustrations out on their children. It’s a shocking indictment on a developed nation that we allow this to continue,” she said.

“Yet I read with sadness the National Party’s concerns with child abuse statistics - as it was their policies that directly contributed to the social divisions and desperation that is evident in this report.”

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