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Migrants Need Access To Benefits Considering COVID-19 Crisis

Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Government to grant people who do not meet the residential requirements access to benefits so that everyone can have a roof over their head and follow the Alert Level 4 Covid-19 guidelines. We are asking:

- That the Government applies Section 64 of the Social Security Act (Emergency Benefit: grant during epidemic in New Zealand) so that migrants who have lost their employment or are stranded in the country can access emergency benefit payments.

- Introduce regulations so that the emergency benefit rate is set on par at the equivalent rate of the main benefit type that MSD would grant to a person entitled to the benefit in circumstances where they would qualify.

- For the Minister of Social Development to apply Section 64 for a period of at least 6 months.

- Increase baseline benefits to liveable levels.

“People who do not have a source of income to put a roof over their head or access to food won’t be able to ‘Stay at home’ and follow the Alert Level 4 Covid-19 guidelines. Migrant communities are at risk of facing severe economic hardship due to loss of employment and the inability to return to their home countries due to travel restrictions around the world”, says Brooke Fiafia, Auckland Action Against Spokesperson.

“We are calling on the Government to apply Section 64 of the Social Security Act to grant everyone access to emergency benefits, and to set the emergency benefit rate at the equivalent rate of the main benefit type that MSD would grant to a person entitled to the benefit in circumstances similar to the person.

“The Government has an opportunity to show leadership and good-will internationally by ensuring that migrant communities in New Zealand have access to income support during these times of crisis. We hope this will help foster reciprocity by overseas Governments and encourage them to grant welfare assistance to New Zealand citizens overseas.

“The more support we provide to people to ensure they can follow the Alert Level 4 Covid-19 guidelines, the sooner we’ll come out of it. Providing adequate housing and income support for the homeless, migrant workers, and low-income families means we can remain united in the fight against COVID-19”.

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