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

Joint Statement: Establishment Of NZ-China Strategic Partnership

At the invitation of Governor-General Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Prime Minister The Rt Hon John Key of New Zealand, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China made a state visit to New Zealand from 19 to 21 November 2014.

During his visit, President Xi Jinping met with Governor-General Jerry Mateparae, and held talks with Prime Minister John Key. The leaders had an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of common interest. More>>

 
 

Parliament Today:

Savings Targets: Health Procurement Plan Changes Direction

Next steps in implementing DHB shared services programme Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the Government has agreed to explore a proposal put forward by DHBs to move implementation of the shared services programme to a DHB-owned vehicle. More>>

ALSO:

More on Health Policy:

Auckland Unification: 'No IT Cost Blowout' (Just More Expensive)

Following discussion of an update on Auckland Council’s Information Services Transformational Programme at today’s Finance and Performance Committee, council has released the report publicly. More>>

ALSO:

Other Expensive Things:

Gordon Campbell: On The SAS Role Against Islamic State, And Podemos

Only 25% of the US bombing runs are even managing to locate IS targets worth bombing. As the NYT explains at length, this underlines the need for better on-the-ground intelligence to direct the air campaign to where the bad guys have holed up... More>>

ALSO:

Public Service: Commission Calls For Answers On Handling Of CERA Harassment

EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue is deeply concerned about the way in which the State Services Commission has handled sexual allegations made against CERA chief executive Roger Sutton this week and is calling for answers. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On Andrew Little’s Victory

So Andrew Little has won the leadership – by the narrowest possible margin – from Grant Robertson, and has already been depicted by commentators as being simultaneously (a) the creature of the trade unions and (b) the most centrist of the four candidates, which would be an interesting trick to see someone try in a game of Twister. More>>

ALSO:

China President Wishlists: Greens Welcome Xi, But Human Rights Need To Be On Agenda

“President Xi has made some progress on climate change, but he must also lift the Chinese government’s game on human rights issues,” Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said... It is important that our Government continues to urge the Chinese government to show restraint and respect human rights in both Tibet and the Xinjiang province.” More>>

ALSO:

Airport Security Breach: CAA Fines Minister

Minister Brownlee has been issued an infringement notice and is required to pay a $2000 infringement fine for breaching Civil Aviation Rule 19.357(b), which states no person may be in an airport security area without an appropriate identity card or document. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news