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Raise earnings threshold to $150 a week

23 May 2008
For immediate release

Raise earnings threshold to $150 a week says Rural Women New Zealand

Rural Women New Zealand is disappointed that this week’s Budget did not raise the $80 a week earnings threshold, after which unemployment benefits are slashed by 70 cents in the dollar.

“The opportunity to close the gap has been lost and the chasm widened between those in work and those attempting to take the first steps on the ladder out of unemployment,” says Rural Women New Zealand national president Margaret Chapman.

“Our organisation was hoping the Budget would address the difficulties these families are facing, and at our national conference in Blenheim this week members passed a remit calling for a raise in the earnings threshold to $150 a week.”

Rural Women New Zealand’s position is supported by figures issued recently by the Child Poverty Action Group showing that once housing costs are taken into account, beneficiaries on average have 40% of the minimum wage left to live on.

Rural Women New Zealand does not believe raising the earnings threshold to $150 a week before the unemployment benefit begins to abate would discourage beneficiaries from seeking work.

“Indeed leaving the threshold at $80 is discouraging people from working, as increases in the minimum wage mean that people reach this threshold after fewer hours of work. When rising travel costs are taken into account it is often not worthwhile taking on work, particularly in rural areas when longer distances are involved.”


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