Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Human Poverty in NZ – it’s no joke!

Human Poverty in NZ – it’s no joke!

Today was April Fools’ Day, many children (of all ages!) are running round playing silly practical jokes on others – I guess people have to find fun in their life where they can.

Some of our clients, living in poverty, struggle to see humour in a life so deprived. So many people in Christchurch are still living with the results of Earthquakes with no end in sight for resolving this. Some residents are also suffering from effects of other disasters like flooding (and there are different types of problems all over New Zealand!) All this stress and work is on top of not being able to afford the basics in life that the rest of us take for granted. Imagine having to choose whether to buy your children’s medicine or to buy them healthy food. Should you take money from the rent to do that this week? But you won’t be able to pay it back next week, and do you really want to risk eviction?! All possible solutions come with some kind of unacceptable consequences. Rental accommodations have gone up on average, post-Earthquake, by about 25%. This means that if you were paying $300 for a house, you will now be paying $375, WITH NO MORE MONEY.

A Simple Example:
A single parent with two teenage children and a 10-year-old could receive: Sole Parent Support (was DPB) 295, Accommodation Supplement 120 (maximum for family type), Family Support* 238; total = $653

(*Family Tax Credits 101 + 73 +64 for two teenagers (16 & 14 yrs) & one 10-yr-old)

Rent in Chch for an average 3 bedroom house would be at least $400/w at present, Power >40/w and phone 25/w. This leaves 163 for food, clothes, presents, replacing consumables, etc when they would need ~$300 just for their basic food costs (according to the University of Otago Food Cost Survey shown below). We would estimate that clothes and presents could easily come to $10/week. Even if the family received some Temporary Additional Support (TAS) they would still not have enough for all their essential costs each week! From this simple example you can see that for many people, Benefit levels are not sufficient for basic essential costs. (Example has a deficit of $122/week!)

The figures below (from: http://www.otago.ac.nz/humannutrition/research/food-cost-survey/otago057919.html) represent average figures for BASIC food costs (in Christchurch city, food is more expensive away from cheaper supermarkets), not luxuries or special dietary needs (which can also involve extra travel).

Man: 66
Woman: 62
Adolescent Boy: 83
Adolescent Girl: 69
10 yr old: 55
5 yr old: 36
4 yr old: 34
1 yr old: 30
Non-food items: 30-40

Why being poor is so expensive

We cannot hope to do a complete and thorough examination of this phenomenon but hope to illustrate some examples to help people understand this issue. Some instances include:

• Not being able to take advantage of deals and specials at supermarkets; not being able to stock up on food when it is cheap

• Not being able to take advantage of good supermarket petrol coupons (e.g. 20c or 30c/L off) because there is not enough money for petrol (e.g. after you have bought the groceries) before they expire

• Having to buy cheap clothing and shoes that do not last as long. Eg shoes that cost three times as much may last five or ten times as long; clothes may not last until the child grows out of them – good quality clothing often lasts for several children

• When you can’t pay power bills on time, you miss the 10% discount

• If you don’t pay a fine, the amount increases. Often the option of paying things off does not happen until it has been increased a number of times and referred to a collection agency

• Rental accommodation that is affordable is sometimes not an ideal environment to live in. This means that there could be increasingly occurring health problems in the family requiring doctor’s visits

• Many people struggling to afford all their basic essential costs cannot afford some other bill that comes out of the blue (often a car cost, see below, but may be a blown up fridge or other essential, a vet bill, etc).

• Sometimes people resort to a credit card (if they are able to get one) or a credit agency. These have high interest rates that will only increase debt as it is unlikely the person can afford to repay even the principle. Generally the only people who lend to beneficiaries have exorbitant interest rates

• Cheaper cars will often require maintenance / replacement of items. These often come at unexpected or inconvenient times

• If someone is receiving Working For Families as they work over 20 hours/week, it is possible this will stop over the Christmas break if they are unable to work during this period. This is often a time of year when people require more funds.

So by all means, have a laugh in your life if you can, but remember those less fortunate than you and see what you can do to change the world for the better.

Beneficiary Advisory Service is a Christchurch based Community Group who help people on benefits and low incomes with their problems with Work and Income. We are specialists in Welfare Law and provide advice, information, support and advocacy to hundreds of people every year. Visit our website at www.bas.org.nz

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

  • Week in Parliament 22-05-15
  • Saturday Sitting
  • House Rises At Midnight
  • Telco Levy Bill Passes
  • Telco Levy Bill Completes First Reading
  • Social Housing Bill Passes Under Urgency

  • TPPA: University Of Auckland Warns Of Negative TPP Impact

    The University of Auckland May 20, 2015 University of Auckland Warns of Negative TPP Impact With the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation drawing to a close, the University of Auckland has expressed serious concerns about its potential implications. ... More>>

    NZ Flag: Flag Referendum Gets Hit Hard In New Poll

    The latest Campbell Live text poll confirms it is time for the Prime Minister to listen to the public and shelve his flag referendum, says the New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters. More>>

    Gordon Campbell: The Government’s Belated Moves On Property Speculation

    Is it a property tax on capital gains or a capital gains tax on property? The Jesuitical distinctions in the government’s spin about its latest moves on property speculators are all about whether the government can claim that it jumped, or confess that it ... More>>

    Grant Robertson:
    Key Can’t Just Be Prime Minister For Parnell

    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In a ... More>>

    Labour Party: More Regional Jobs Go In Corrections Reshape

    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka ... More>>

    ALSO:

  • NZ First - Prison Job Losses to Send Money Offshore
  • TPPA: ‘Team Obama’ Regroups On Fast Track, Still Not Deliverable

    ‘After yesterday’s stinging and unexpected defeat for the Obama administration’s attempt to advance Fast Track legislation in the US Senate, Senate leaders have worked up a compromise they think will get them past this blockage’, according to Auckland ... More>>

    NZ Government: 5,500 More Doctors And Nurses In Our Hospitals

    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a record number of doctors and nurses are working in District Health Boards across the country. More>>

    Controller and Auditor General: Katherine Rich Conflict of Interest Decision

    We are writing to you about a matter that has been raised with us by members of the public. More>>

    ALSO:


    Budget 2015: Andrew Little On The 2015 Budget

    Speaking to the Chamber of Commerce, the Labour opposition leader attacked the government’s approach to economic issues facing New Zealand. He said they have been “more than reckless in their complacency” and “the next week’s budget will do nothing ... More>>

    Defence Force: NZDF Building Partner Capacity Mission Personnel In Iraq

    NZDF Building Partner Capacity Mission Personnel in Iraq The New Zealand Defence Force Building Partner Capacity training mission contingent is in place at Taji Military Complex in Iraq. The Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating says the ... More>>

    PM Press Conference: ACC Levy Cuts Announced

    In a press conference this afternoon in Wellington, ACC Minister Nikki Kaye proposed $500 million worth of ACC levy cuts. More>>

    Quakes: New Process For Red Zone Crown Offers

    Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced a process to give everyone a say on the Crown offers to owners of vacant, commercial/industrial and uninsured properties in the Residential Red Zone. More>>

    ALSO:

    Gordon Campbell: On The Battle Obama Is Waging Over The TPP

    For the past two and a half years, this column has been arguing that the fate of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal will hinge on whether US President Barack Obama can win Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) from Congress... Last week, the White House finally, finally unveiled a draft TPA Bill. More>>

    ALSO:


    Gordon Campbell: On lessons for Labour from the UK election
    If the polls were right – and the pollsters kept telling us how accurate they’d been in 2010, and even Nate Silver was getting the same results – there seemed no way that the British Labour Party could lose last Thursday’s British election. With Labour predicted to win around 270 seats and the Scottish National Party batting around 55-60 seats, Labour seemed to be home free. But…as we now know, things didn’t turn out that way. Labour ended up with 232 seats and the Conservatives swept back to power with an outright majority, after winning only a little more than a third ( 36.9%) of the votes cast.MORE >>
    Also.

  • NZ PM John Key - PM congratulates David Cameron after UK election
  • The Nation IV Transcript - Hack Attack author Nick Davies
  • Get More From Scoop

     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Politics
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news