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Government ignores most of welfare report recommendations

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group gave a wide range of recommendations on changes needed to the welfare system, including raising core benefit levels up to 47%, removing most sanctions and changes to how people can access their benefit entitlements. Despite there being over 40 recommendations, the Government has only committed to three changes in this year’s budget, which include an end to sanctions on sole parents, changes to the abatement rate, and additional frontline staff. Auckland Action Against Poverty condemns the Government’s lack of action on welfare reform following the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.

“While we welcome the Government finally putting an end to sanctions on sole mothers, we are disappointed that most of the recommendations are not being implemented. These include an increase to core benefit levels, adjustments to the accommodation supplement and a range of other benefit sanctions removed”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Coordinator.

“We are particularly disappointed to see no changes to baseline benefit levels, considering these could have had a larger impact on reducing the number of people needing to go to Work and Income for emergency assistance. The Welfare Expert Advisory Group made it clear benefit levels should go up by up to 47%, and that these changes needed to happen with urgency.

“Removing sanctions on sole mothers and changing the abatement rate were all things that Government parties had agreed on when in opposition and could have acted on earlier in the term. The point of commissioning a panel of experts to come with further recommendations was so that the Government could do a wider overhaul.

“If the Government is serious about ending child poverty it will implement the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group within this term. The cost of inaction will increase expenditure in areas of health, justice and education, while leaving our future generations without enough left.

“Auckland Action Against Poverty will continue campaigning to end all sanctions, and ensure people have access to their benefit entitlements at Work and Income.

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