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: State Opening Of Parliament

The House sits at 10.30am today before MPs are summoned to hear the Speech from the Throne in the Legislative Council Chamber.

The speech delivered by the Governor-General on the Government’s behalf outlines its priorities for this Parliament.

After this MPs will return to the House for the presentation of petitions and papers and the introduction of any bills.

The Government has five notices of motion on the Order Paper which can be debated. These relate to relating to the appointment of the Deputy Speaker, Assistant Speakers, the reinstatement of business in a carryover motion and one on “Entities to be deemed public organisations”. More>>

 

Tertiary Education: Students Doing It Tough As Fees Rise Again

The Government is making it increasingly difficult for Kiwis to gain tertiary education as fees continue to rise and access to student support becomes even more restricted, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. More>>

ALSO:

Housing, Iraq: PM Press Conference – 20 October 2014

Prime Minister John Key met with press today to discuss:
• Housing prices and redevelopment in Auckland
• Discussions with Tony Abbott on the governmental response to ISIS, and New Zealand’s election to the UN Security Council More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Review Team Named, Leadership Campaign Starts

Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review. He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban.

ALSO:


Roy Morgan Poll: National Slips, Labour Hits Lows

The first New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll since the NZ Election shows National 43.5% (down 3.54% since the September 20 Election). This isn’t unusual, National support has dropped after each of John Key’s Election victories... However, support for the main opposition Labour Party has crashed to 22.5% (down 2.63% and the lowest support for Labour since the 1914 NZ Election as United Labour). More>>

ALSO:

In On First Round: New Zealand Wins Security Council Seat

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed New Zealand securing a place on the United Nations Security Council for the 2015-16 term. More>>

ALSO:

TPP Leak: Intellectual Property Text Confirms Risk - Jane Kelsey

The US is continuing its assault on generic medicines through numerous proposed changes to patent laws. ‘These are bound to impact on Pharmac if they are accepted’, according to Professor Kelsey... Copyright is another area of ongoing sensitivity... More>>

ALSO:

RMA: Smith Plans Reform To Ease Urban Development

Newly appointed Environment Minister Nick Smith has announced Resource Management Act reform to foster urban development, where high land prices and expensive resource consents are blocking efforts to provide affordable housing. More>>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On New Zealand getting involved (again) in other people's wars

Apparently, the Key government is still pondering how New Zealand will contribute to the fight against Islamic State. Long may it ponder, given the lack of consensus among our allies as to how to fight IS, where to fight it (Syria, Iraq, or both?) and with whose ground troops, pray tell? More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On child poverty, and David Shearer’s latest outburst

The politicisation of (a) the public service and (b) the operations of the Official Information Act have been highlighted by the policy advice package on child poverty that RNZ’s resolute political editor Brent Edwards has finally prised out of the Ministry of Social Development. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On the government’s review of security laws

So the Key government is about to launch a four week review of the ability of our existing legislation to deal with “suspected and returning foreign terrorist fighters, and other violent extremists.”

According to its terms of reference, the review will consider whether the SIS, GCSB and Police are sufficiently able right now to (a) investigate and monitor suspected and returning foreign terrorist fighters… More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news