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Bridges call for tough sanctions out of touch with evidence


22/01/2018
AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY


National Party leader Simon Bridges has called for tougher benefit sanctions after reports by the Ministry of Social Development highlighted that benefit sanctions have dropped due to a change of policy that requires a second pair of eyes before a sanction is imposed. Auckland Action Against Poverty condemns Bridges’ comments and invites him to provide any evidence that benefit sanctions have worked as intended.

There has been no evidence provided by any Government that benefit sanctions work as intended. Sanctions on sole mothers for failing to name the father of the child on the birth certificate have not shown to increase child support, and the work test sanctions have failed to push people into secure employment”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.

“We welcome the reduction in new sanctions, but far more work needs to be done by the Labour-led Government to build a system welfare based on support, rather than punishment. The Labour Party has so far not repealed any of the sanctions in the Social Security Act, despite promising to remove sanctions on sole mothers since before the election.

“Simon Bridges would do well to meet with people on the benefit at the queues of Work and Income to get a sense of just how much low income families are struggling to get by after its Party oversaw rapid rent increases and costs of living while in Government. Calling for tougher sanctions when too many people on the benefit are below the breadline is irresponsible and an attack on our most vulnerable.

“The National Party’s welfare policy is not based on any international evidence. International reports have shown there is no evidence welfare sanctions have worked to encourage people to find work or improve their financial well-being. Instead, the National Party’s policy is based on an ideology where it is assumed people on the benefit are lazy and their poverty is the product of their own actions instead of an economic system that doesn’t allow people to live with dignity.

Last year National Party leader Simon Bridges made similar comments, and we invited him to join us at the Work and Income queues to see the reality and see if he could navigate the welfare system himself. The offer still stands for him and any other political leader out of touch with the realities people on the benefit face.

ENDS

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