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WINZ exacerbates growing food bank lines this Christmas

20 December 2011

WINZ exacerbates growing food bank lines this Christmas

Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) is helping to make Christmas particularly miserable for some Kiwi families by restricting the payment of some special needs grants, the Green Party said today.

Struggling families who have a need to get a third special needs grant this year have been told by WINZ that they need to increase their income, reduce costs, and seek budgeting advice.

“For some families, there's simply no way to increase income or reduce costs to make ends meet on a benefit or low wage job. Rent and power costs are fixed while everyday basics are becoming increasingly expensive,” Green Party income support spokesperson Jan Logie said.

“Community budget services in some areas have long queues for their services preventing deserving families from getting special needs grants this Christmas. There’s a one-month waiting list in Levin, for example.

“The end result is a massive increase in demand for food bank services around the country.”

Groceries have increased by 5.2% while meat and poultry prices have increased 5.7% since the National Government increased GST in September 2010. Petrol prices are at record highs too stretching household budgets further.

Jan Logie said policies were urgently needed that would bring hope to those struggling to make ends meet before relying on crisis support from special needs grants, food banks, and community ministries.

“There are steps we can take to turn things around, like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, extending Working for Families support to children whose parents rely on a benefit, and reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance,” said Logie.

“We could bring 100,000 kids and their families out of poverty by 2014.

“Many families take Christmas trees, pavlova, and presents for granted. We want all families to share in this traditional good time”

Link to further details of the Green Party’s Child Poverty package:

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