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Report shows DWI actively contributing to poverty

30 July 2000

Report shows DWI actively contributing to poverty

Green Party Social Services Spokesperson Sue Bradford today said she was "absolutely disgusted" with the findings of a report on how welfare entitlement was denied to beneficiaries and low income earners.

The report, prepared by the Wellington Downtown Community Ministry, found that of the 176,000 households entitled to extra assistance from the Department of Work and Income to cover basic living costs, only 11,000 households were receiving their full entitlement.

The report goes on to state that "The [Department of Work and Income], even when it has the information, is not telling people of their entitlement". It calculates that each of the poorest 175,000 households in New Zealand - home to a quarter of New Zealand's children - is on average missing out on over $1,100 per year that they are entitled to.

Sue Bradford said the report confirmed her worst fears.

"It has long been the belief among beneficiary advocate groups that beneficiaries have been denied their full entitlements either through poorly trained staff or deliberately. This report confirms that both are true," she said.

"The consequences of this deprivation of entitlement can be seen clearly in overcrowded and poorly heated homes, treatable illnesses going untreated, kids with no books and the growing use of foodbanks, among other things," said Ms Bradford.

"The Greens are hugely concerned that the welfare system appears to be actively entrenching poverty through failing to do its job properly. The report states that of the households which are missing out on their entitlements the average family with two adults and two children is missing out on $2,030 per year.

"The Minister in charge of DWI, Steve Maharey, has long told us that he wants front-line DWI staff making sure beneficiaries are receiving their full entitlements. This is clearly crucial and the Greens think it is very important that beneficiary advocate groups are now involved in the training of these staff."

Ms Bradford said the report was a wake-up call for DWI and Mr Maharey and said response to the huge issues raised had to be clear, decisive and immediate.

Ends

Sue Bradford MP: 025 243 4239, 09 423 8667 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 021 110 1133


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