The Whakamana Tāngata: Restoring Dignity to Social Security in New Zealand report rightly acknowledges the role of the benefits system in supporting vulnerable communities and those experiencing unexpected life shocks.
Benefits are also a means of assisting those experiencing the cumulative impact of other challenges relating to health, addictions, housing costs, and the impact of regional under-development.
The Salvation Army supports the report’s recommendation to enhance benefit levels and invite the government to consider an increase of 30% across the three main benefits; this would go a considerable way to address the Government’s stated goal of reducing child poverty.
Reducing sanctions for beneficiaries and creating a robust labour market where people are better off in work than on benefits are effective measures to build a welfare system fit for today, The Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit Director Lt Colonel Ian Hutson says.
“The entrenched poverty experienced by tens of thousands of New Zealanders living on welfare benefits is due in large measure to the inadequacy of these benefits in the face of high living costs, especially housing costs.
“We are heartened by WEAG’s recommendations, which reflect the views of the thousands of beneficiaries who spoke during last year’s consultation.
“The mana and dignity of people are at the heart of the report,” Lt Colonel Hutson says.
These recommendations represent the kind of radical reforms that are required to turn around the levels of persistent poverty in New Zealand today.
“These are the people who are struggling to meet the basic needs of their whānau, and a lift in income is essential if they are to have hope that they can improve their lives,” Lt Colonel Hutson says.