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National Party’s welfare policy out of touch


“The National Party’s proposal to cut gang’s members benefit if they can’t prove they don’t have illegal income or assets will do nothing to reduce poverty or violence. Giving Work and Income staff discretionary powers to determine who is gang affiliated will only result in further discrimination towards low-income communities”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.

“The anti-gang rhetoric by the National Party is impossible to put into practice in policy. Beneficiaries already must declare sources of income and assets for the purposes of welfare assistance. Enabling the use of discretion by Work and Income staff to determine whether someone is gang affiliated would only entrench racist biases and prejudice Māori and Pasifika families.

“If the focus by the National Party was to end the cycle of violence, we’d suggest looking at ending state care abuse, addressing resource deprivation in low-income neighbourhoods and lifting income levels. Gang-affiliated communities already are putting some of these solutions in place, working alongside their local DHB’s to address inequities in health.

“The fixation on the number of people on the benefit by the National Party ignores genuine well-being determinants such as access to housing, liveable incomes, access to healthcare, and household debt. Removing access to income support without addressing access to basic services will only further increase poverty levels.

“Our expectation by policymakers from all parties is that they build a welfare system that allows people to live with dignity. We ask that the bar is set at a much higher level, and that instead of misinformed rhetoric on beneficiaries the focus be on ensuring people receive enough income so that they do not need to queue each week for a food grant. While the National Party wants to introduce punitive policies that would further push people into poverty, the current Government continues to delay much needed welfare reform. It is not kind nor compassionate to keep benefit levels below the poverty line.

We urge National Party leader Simon Bridges and all politicians who continue to deprive people of accessing adequate welfare support to spend a day at Work and Income with beneficiaries and advocates to see our broken welfare system for themselves"

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