Clark: Poverty report indicts National's policies
“In 1990, National promised to build ‘the decent society’. Instead, we’ve seen an increase in poverty and social dislocation, with the emergence of a tiered society in which the rich are rewarded with tax cuts and the poor have their living standards slashed.
“The Family Centre’s report finds that many low income New Zealand household are ‘substantially deprived’ of essential items and services like food, clothing and health care. It says that New Zealand’s social cohesion has been seriously undermined.
“For many low income families, decent, affordable housing is a major problem. The report substantiates widespread evidence that market rents imposed on all state tenants have been a major cause of poverty these last nine years.
“Labour will restore income-related rents for state housing so that low income tenants pay no more than 25 per cent of their net income in rent. We will halt the sale of state houses and embark on a programme to provide quality, affordable housing to low income New Zealanders.
“A disturbing new phenomenon is the emergence of elder poverty in New Zealand. With Mrs Shipley’s 1 April 1999 superannuation cuts, increasing numbers of older people are set to fall below the poverty line as the level of superannuation falls to 60 per cent of the net average ordinary time weekly wage.
“We will also reverse the cuts to New Zealand superannuation, restoring the married rate to 65 per cent of the net average ordinary time weekly wage and adjusting the single rate upwards in line with that.
“Labour is determined to arrest and reverse the rising poverty trend in New Zealand. Doing that is a top priority for Labour in government after the election,” Helen Clark said.
Contact: David Lewis (press sec) 04-471 9394, 025-409 492