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Māori Party: Financial Vulnerability Survey Shows Need For Wage, Benefit Increases

In response to a new financial vulnerability survey that shows Māori are among the worst affected economically by COVID-19, Māori Party Co-leader and Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is calling on the Government to lift incomes by doubling core benefits, increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, and creating secure, well-paid jobs.

The survey of 3,000 New Zealanders across the last two weeks in April was conducted by the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) as part of an international study in eight countries. It found that 34% of households are in financial difficulty and struggling to pay bills, and that Māori, Pacific Peoples and young people are the worst affected.

“We need to lift the incomes of the New Zealanders who are struggling most, including by doubling core benefit levels, legislating for all workers, including essential workers, to be paid at least a living wage, and investing in creating secure, well-paid jobs,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.

“Aotearoa has fared worse in terms of financial vulnerability than other countries surveyed because we had low levels of household savings, low social welfare benefits, and a high level of insecure employment. Unemployed people and workers in insecure sectors such as construction, food services, agriculture and accommodation, many of which were essential services, are among the worst hit financially by the pandemic.

“This situation is result of an economy that has been structurally unbalanced for decades, forcing people to live pay check to pay check, locking them into hardship and poverty. The survey found that financial hardship predated the crisis, and that nearly all people are struggling to pay debt and bills, not just those who have lost their jobs from COVID-19.

“It also highlighted that low benefit levels have contributed to hardship, and we know that Māori unemployment levels were high even before the pandemic. This proves why the Government should double the benefits of all people who are out of work.

“As a country we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine our economy so it that works for Māori and all communities. Now is the time to create a resilient future-focused economy that provides secure well-paid jobs and a fair and just social security system,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.

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