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Minimum wage increase overdue

The Government announced that it will be increasing the minimum wage from $16.50 to $17.70 per hour, as part of a move by the Labour led Government towards making the minimum wage $20.00 per hour by 2021. Auckland Action Against Poverty welcomes the increase but warns that income levels remain far too low when compared with the rising cost of rent and other expenses.

“The minimum wage increase will provide a reprieve for low income workers who are on the breadline. An additional $50 for full time minimum wage workers will go a long way towards covering basic necessities. For people on the benefit, who often go in and out of minimum wage jobs, the increase will make less of an impact due to benefit levels remaining far below the poverty line”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.

“A single person over 25 earns only $215.34 a week after taxes as part of their core jobseeker support benefit. Even with accommodation supplement, and other forms of assistance, more people than ever are having to rely on emergency assistance from Work and Income to cover basic costs such as food. This is compared to $500.00 a full time worker on the minimum wage would be receiving after the minimum wage increase kicks in April next year.

“We are calling on the Government to look at increasing incomes across the board, and evaluate the pace at which the minimum wage is increased in order to match it with the living wage. The living wage currently sits at $20.55 per hour, and it is considered the bare minimum someone needs to earn in order to live dignified lives. The state of inequality in New Zealand should be considered at emergency levels, and one of the most effective ways at closing the gap is ensuring no one is earning below the living wage and having to rely on emergency assistance.

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