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Government policies reduce poverty

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Social Development & Employment

Embargoed 3rd July 2008 1pm Media Statement

Government policies reduce poverty

Child poverty has fallen on every measure since 2004, the Minister for Social Development and Employment Ruth Dyson said today, welcoming a report that confirms 130,000 children have been lifted out of poverty.

"I am very proud to say that between 2004 to 2007, income inequality reduced for the first time since the late 1980s. The Household Income Report 2008 confirms that the government’s polices, including Working for Families, are having a real impact on low-income families. But most importantly, we are committed to continuing this work and today I am announcing two further policy changes," said Ms Dyson.

"These changes will further support the country’s most vulnerable, while improving the services and support available to beneficiaries through a new core benefit approach.

"The government recognises some families are struggling with increases in the price of food and petrol. In Budget 2008 the government responded with a comprehensive tax cut package but now it's time to take further action targeted at those most in need.

"From 4 August 2008, the financial assistance available through Special Needs Grants for food will double. This will be achieved by halving the time period from 52 weeks to 26. In addition, the limit for emergency support will increase from $200 to $500.

"At the same time, the focus on supporting those on benefits into sustainable paid work continues. Over the last year the Working New Zealand service approach has begun to shift the focus in the social support system towards helping people into employment based on their individual circumstances, rather than the type of benefit they are receiving.

“Today I outline the next step - a core benefit to modernise the benefit system. The government will remove the stereotyped language and bureaucracy of a bygone era. This will ensure that Work and Income respond to people as individuals rather than as categories" said Ms Dyson

As part of these changes, Work and Income will deliver case management that wrap packages of support from various agencies around clients and their families. The need for unnecessary paperwork is being reduced, along with the elimination of outdated terminology such as "invalid" or the "Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB)".

"Achieving a just and fair society is an ongoing effort, and we will continue to strive towards this goal. I expect to see further improvement in the next Household Income Report in 2009 which will include the impact of the April 2007 increases to Family Tax Credits," said Ms Dyson.


ENDS

Attachment: Combined_fact_sheet_3rd_July.doc

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