Welfare Expert Advisory Group report should be made public
The Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG), tasked with proposing recommendations for changes to the welfare system, has delivered its report to Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. Despite thousands of people feeding into the report—many coming from low-income communities—the Government is withholding the findings of the report instead of making them public.
“The biggest stakeholders of this report are people on a benefit, and yet they are going to be kept in the dark about the report’s findings for a few months while political parties mull over the document”, says Ricardo Menéndez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.
“The Government’s response to this document should include the scrutiny of frontline advocacy groups and those on the breadline.
“While there was an opportunity to make online submissions, notice of community meetings to be held across the country was provided late and they were poorly advertised. There was no push at the Work and Income offices to encourage people on the benefit to attend the consultation meetings or provide submissions.
“Auckland Action Against Poverty rallied community members in South and West Auckland and made a submission, calling for a range of reforms in the welfare system. These included, but were not limited to, ending benefit sanctions, liveable benefit levels, and full access to entitlements.
“We are calling for the findings to be made public, and for a more transparent debate about the urgent transformative reforms Government needs to implement to build a welfare system based on support, not punishment.”