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WEAG benefit increases urgently needed - budgeting expert

WEAG benefit increases urgently needed - budgeting expert

MoneyTalks media release - January 7, 2020

High call volumes from people on benefits over the holiday break show a need to increase core benefits says telephone budgeting service MoneyTalks.

MoneyTalks Financial Mentor, Adrienne Gallie, says most people who live on benefits who ring the service simply don’t have enough income to budget with. “When people on benefits ring up it’s not because they have wasted their money, it’s because they don’t have enough to begin with.

“This is a daily occurrence, just this last week a woman called who had been directed to undertake a budgeting activity so she could get an advance on her benefit to buy her kids a bed, and another woman called who needed budgeting advice to get a food grant, these are basic needs that people simply cannot afford for themselves or their families.

“When we put a budget together for people on a benefit and their families it takes as little as six or seven budget lines to put them into a deficit. Those lines are basic items like food, rent, electricity, petrol, and phone, they often include an advance repayment to WINZ.

“Frequently there’s not enough to meet even those needs without resorting to more advance payments - debts repaid to WINZ weekly – which further reduces their future benefit payments.

“We need recognition that you can’t budget your way out of not having enough income and that because of this people and their children are suffering significant hardship. The only way to fix this is to raise benefits.

“The Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommended that core benefits are increased by 12% to 47% depending on the specific benefit. That would add only a small amount more per person per week, but budgets are so tight that even $20 is the difference between having a meal every day and being able to pay the electricity bill or getting further into hardship and debt.”

MoneyTalks is run by FinCap which supports the work of 200 budgeting services in Aotearoa - New Zealand.


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