Prime Minister Choosing To Keep Beneficiaries In Poverty
Yesterday more than 50+ organisations penned an open letter to Jacinda Ardern, Carmel Sepuloni and Grant Robertson urging them to lift benefit and low-income levels to liveable levels before Christmas.
A reporter asked Jacinda in her live press conference yesterday afternoon about whether she had a chance to consider the open letter and lifting all income levels before Christmas and she responded with “this is not going to be an issue that can be resolved in one week, or one month or indeed one term” citing a 'substantial increase' of $25 made earlier in the year, and the doubling of the Winter Energy Payment which finished on the 1st of October 2020.
Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator Brooke Stanley Pao thinks that addressing poverty by increasing benefits to liveable levels is a major action that can be taken in resolving a major part of the issue, and is something that can be done in the short term.
“This is a clear indication that increasing benefits to liveable levels is not a priority for this Labour government” said Brooke Stanley Pao. "The Prime Minister is choosing to keep people and families in poverty".
“Referring to $25 as a ‘substantial increase’ in benefit levels is so problematic and disconnected with the realities of people who are living day to day in this country, and to be frank it reeks of privilege”.
“The Winter Energy Payment was doubled this year due to Covid, and finished on the 1st of October 2020 which means people are no longer receiving it. We urged the government to keep this going so people and families can have that little bit extra until they increase benefits to liveable levels but this didn’t happen”.
“This Labour government has consistently campaigned and talked about being ‘transformational’ in their approach to social issues like welfare reform and we are yet to see any of these slogans backed up by real and lasting action”.
“I’d like to challenge the Prime Minister and politicians to live on current benefit levels for a month and see how they find themselves. They have no idea what it’s like having to live day to day and it really shows, as they truly believe they’re doing enough at the moment which simply isn’t the case”.
“With now over 60+ organisations calling for an increase in incomes to liveable levels, they have the mandate to do this. What they lack is the political courage”.