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Santa Gives Peanuts To Beneficiaries

December 14 -04

Santa Gives Peanuts To Beneficiaries

Santa and Ms Santa handed out peanuts to beneficiaries on Tuesday morning, outside New Lynn WINZ , highlighting that beneficiaries have received “peanuts” from the Government in this year’s budget. The Santas are members of UNITE!, a union for low paid workers, unemployed and beneficiaries .

Several members of UNITE!, and supporters from the Green Party and the Alliance, were protesting the hardship that beneficiaries face at Christmas time; and cuts to core benefits, the Disability Allowance, and the Special Benefit. Janet Bogle, the Vice-President of UNITE! Waitemata, (Ms Santa), said that Christmas is an especially hard time for beneficiaries, as they struggle to afford things that most New Zealanders take for granted such as presents for their children, visits to grandparents, and trips to the beach. “Ever since the 1991 Benefit cuts, beneficiaries have suffered great hardship”, she said. “Now the Government has a $5.7 billion surplus.

They should share the surplus with beneficiaries.” “The In Work Payment in this year’s “family friendly budget is only for non- beneficiaries”, she said.” This is discrimination. “Children of beneficiaries need support just as much as children of non-beneficiaries.”

Ms Bogle said that the Government planned to reduce the Special Benefit, replacing it with a far more restrictive benefit called “Temporary Additional Support” in 2006. “The Special Benefit is a discretionary benefit, and a person can receive as much as they need,” she said. However the Temporary Additional Support will be capped at 30% of a person’s main benefit. Anybody who has high accommodation, travel, or other essential costs will be severely affected.”

Ms Bogle said that the Disability Allowance was also being eroded People who received the Disability Allowance for Counselling, were being made to re-apply after ten sessions. “This causes stress and hardship for beneficiaries with long term difficulties”, she said. Several people coming in and out of WINZ shared their stories with the protestors..

A mother on the DPB said she was very pleased that beneficiaries were getting organised . She said that WINZ was pressuring her to go to work, even though she had young children. She said that it was very important for the children’s sake, that mothers could leave violent relationships, and have a benefit to support their families.

A pensioner said that she had had her benefit reduced for several months without noticing it, because she had omitted to fill in a form. A student said that her family of six,, living on one income, received no family support, and no accommodation allowance, and was struggling to make ends meet. UNITE! Waitemata is calling for unions and community groups to join the campaign to Reinstate the Special Benefit. “We need to support each other,” said MS Bogle.

“ Higher Benefits mean higher wages. We need to unite for a living income for all workers and beneficiaries.” People interested in the campaign, or wanting to join UNITE!, can contact UNITE! Waitemata :

ENDS

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