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Government inaction on living costs hitting beneficiaries

Government inaction on living costs hitting beneficiaries hardest

Statistics New Zealand’s latest report highlights that people on the benefit have been disproportionately hit by increased living costs, compared to New Zealand’s wealthiest. The cost of living for people on the benefit rose 0.6 percent, compared with 0.1 percent for all households. Meanwhile, the wealthiest spending households saw a reduction of 0.2 percent on their costs of living. Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Government to take urgent action to address growing inequality between the rich and poor.

“The latest Stats NZ report shows that families on the breadline are struggling to make ends meet. While income levels for beneficiaries remain stagnant, living costs are rapidly rising, resulting in a record number of beneficiaries having to access hardship grants from Work and Income to meet basic needs such as food”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.

“The Stats NZ report highlights that not enough has been done to address inequality in New Zealand. The Government needs to take measures to increase benefit levels and fix our tax system that is burdening our low-income people disproportionately.

“New Zealand’s tax system is putting an undue burden on low-income families, and it is doing little to redistribute wealth into the pockets of our most vulnerable. While beneficiaries continue being most impacted by the excise tax on tobacco and petrol, no new taxes are on the Government’s programme to target wealth accumulation by the rich. Our wealthiest can continue consuming tobacco products without negatively affecting their finances, while beneficiaries are being punished for what is ultimately a public health issue.

“As the Government budget approaches we are calling for an increase on core benefit levels and progressive tax reform. We are hopeful the recommendations from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group which are released will include an increase on core benefit levels, and better provision of affordable public housing.

“The Prime Minister needs to do more than speak of kindness and compassion towards our most vulnerable. It needs to introduce tangible policies to narrow the growing gap between the rich and the poor, which is being highlighted by her Government’s own departments.

ENDS

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