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Working Poor A Disgrace

Make it easier for low income people to get financial help says Peter Malcolm spokesperson for Income Equality Aotearoa—“ Closing the Gap”

Two weeks into the Covid-19 Lockdown there is a need for more urgent policy making and systemic change to help people on low incomes says Malcolm He goes on to say that we must urgently close loopholes and provide more income support to those people struggling on low incomes during and after the Covid-19 emergency.

According to recent data on the social impact of the Covid-19 Lockdown released by the Salvation Army and the government, more people are needing help and it is likely the number will continue to rise for some time yet.

More New Zealanders than ever are seeking help from food-banks because they don’t have enough money to buy food, according to the Salvation Army’s report. This is an ongoing issue with more families needing help in 2019 than 2018; and on now there is the impact of the Covid-19 disruption. In the week to 27 March 2020, estimates were that food-bank demand had increased by a third, with particular spikes in Auckland, Northland and Christchurch. The past week to the third of April was even busier in some regions.

The Ministry of Social Development received 22,000 applications for benefit payments in the first week of lockdown according to the Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni when she appeared before the Parliamentary Epidemic Response Committee on Thursday.

Furthermore people are falling through the cracks and not getting the help they need despite the wage subsidy scheme according to this story “loopholes in wage subsidy scheme” see below. For example, staff who work in government funded organisations have been told they are not eligible for the subsidy. But they find their hours have been cut, or there is no work at all because the organisation has shut up shop. As one said:

"This seems like a great anomaly to those of us who have been committed workers under their care. Why should we fall into this crevice?"

They have bills to pay, need to buy food to survive like anyone else. Anomalies such as these need to be straightened out. It must be made easier and more straightforward for people to get income support so they can support themselves and their families.

The government has responded decisively and well so far to the immediate threat of the Covid virus. In the months ahead we will need bold leadership to ensure we do not leave our most vulnerable behind say Malcolm

Salvation Army Report here; https://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/research-policy/social-policy-parliamentary-unit/latest-report

 

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