Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Please increase benefits


Why is the Labour led government being so tardy about increasing main benefits to a reasonable standard of living? says Peter Malcolm spokesperson of Income Equality Aotearoa NZ Inc—“Closing the Gap

Michael Joseph Savage must be spinning in his grave at the current Labour led Government’s puzzling tardiness in raising main benefit rates says Closing the Gaps. As the first Labour Government architect of the Social Security Act 1938, he deplored the misery he saw under the Great Depression and guided the successful introduction of a world first welfare system, which recognised every citizen had a right to a reasonable standard of living.

In his words “citizens of the Dominion are insuring themselves against the economic hardships that would otherwise follow those natural misfortunes from which no one is immune.” (Ref Almon Rockwell, The New Zealand Social Security Act, Bulletin, May 1939).

But eighty years later Michael Joseph Savage’s compassionate and far-sighted welfare system is now out of sorts with its citizens. It’s become a very complicated system. The large number of benefits, abatements and conditions on whether someone is entitled (read ‘allowed’) to receive income make it hard for staff to administer or for citizens to identify if they are getting what they are entitled to. Mistakes and different interpretations are commonplace.

The benefit amounts provided are substantially below what people need to rise above the bread line. For example, the Jobseeker amount for a single adult over 25 is $281 a week (before tax), that’s just over $7.02 an hour, compared to $756 a week for someone on the minimum wage who gets $18.90 an hour.

And now we have a two tier system where people who have lost their job because of Covid-19 have access to a greater weekly amount of $490 a week with no tax. Yes it is only for three months, but there are less stringent conditions on whether you are ‘entitled’ to be helped than for Jobseeker. Why is that? Why should people who have lost their jobs through non-Covid redundancies, receiverships or other reasons be financially punished?

Yes the government did raise benefits by $25 a week. But it is simply not enough. Nowhere near enough to avoid members of our team of five million having to make daily choices between food or medication; rent or children’s lunches. Especially not when rents and other housing costs take such a proportion of people’s incomes.

All of this has been pointed out many times, not the least by the government’s own Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG), set up to decide whether the social welfare system was fit for purpose.

Unsurprisingly it reported that no, it isn’t. That was over 18 months ago. So far we have had 4 recommendations of 47 accepted and promises of other action ‘soon’.

The WEAG looked into the basic budget costs of six example families with adults of working age and on low incomes. It got experienced budget advisors to test its budgets which covered rent, food, power, clothes, medical costs, transport, school costs. The budget advisors considered them ‘tight’. (Ref See Welfare Expert Advisory Group, Example Families and Budgets: Investigating the Adequacy of Incomes, Background Paper, February 209,Wellington http://www.weag.govt.nz/assets/documents/WEAG-report/background-documents/5269349623/Example-families-010419.pdf).

What did they find?
• For a single person receiving a benefit and renting privately, the deficit is around $130 to $170 a week.
• For a sole parent receiving a benefit and renting privately with one child aged under 2 years, the deficit was is around $110 a week, and with three children rises to around $250 a week.
• For a couple receiving a benefit each and renting privately with two children, the deficit is around $350 a week.

Based on those figures, at best $25 is not even a quarter of what is needed a week for people to meet basic costs.

Peter Malcolm of “Closing the Gap” urges the sixth Labour Government to do the right and decent thing, like your Labour forbears did in 1938 and provide for a reasonable standard of living for all citizens.

References
Almon Rockwell, The New Zealand Social Security Act, Bulletin, May 1939).
Welfare Expert Advisory Group, Example Families and Budgets: Investigating the Adequacy of Incomes, Background Paper, February 209,Wellington http://www.weag.govt.nz/assets/documents/WEAG-report/background-documents/5269349623/Example-families-010419.pdf).

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why Todd Muller Needs To Own The Privacy Leak Scandal


Whenever a political scandal breaks, party leaders have two basic options. They can confess to being in boots and all, and try to brazen it out : nothing to see here, move on. This tended to be the John Key approach. Very hard to pull that off in this case, given that it involved violating the privacy of sick New Zealanders for party political gain.
The other option is to claim innocence of this terrible, no good, highly regrettable “error of judgement” and apologise profusely for the sins of others, while absolving your own good self of any responsibility. This has been Todd Muller’s chosen path.... More>>
 

National Departures: Press Statement From Michelle Boag

Today I am announcing that I have resigned my membership of the NZ National Party. The last few days have underscored for me the unhealthy relationship I have developed with politics. For 47 years, I have devoted much of my professional and personal ... More>>

ALSO:

Govt: Statement From Rt Hon Winston Peters

Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters has announced he is taking a short stint of medical leave this week. More>>


Isolation: Government And Air NZ Agree To Manage Incoming Bookings

Bookings for seats on Air New Zealand flights into New Zealand will be managed in the short term to ensure the Government is able to safely place New Zealanders arriving home into a managed isolation or quarantine facility, says Housing Minister Megan ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: New Investment Creates Over 2000 Jobs To Clean Up Waterways

A package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker announced today. The $162 million dollar package will see 22 water clean-up projects ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: David Clark Resigns As Health Minister

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted David Clark’s resignation as Health Minister. More>>

ALSO:

Election 2020: Green Party Unveils Income Policy

The Green Party is today unveiling its Poverty Action Plan, which includes a Guaranteed Minimum Income to ensure people have enough to live with dignity. The scheme resets income support payments to ensure everyone not in full-time paid work gets at least ... More>>

ALSO:


Conservation: New Protection For Dolphins

Extensive new protections are being put in place as part of an updated plan to look after New Zealand’s native Hector’s and Māui dolphins, announced Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage today. More>>

ALSO:

Auckland: Water Consent Referred To Board Of Inquiry

Environment Minister David Parker has today “called in” Auckland’s application to the Waikato Regional Council to take an extra 200 million litres of water a day from the lower reaches of the Waikato River for Auckland drinking water and other municipal uses... More>>

ALSO:




Covid-19 Patient Info Leak: Hamish Walker - A Personal Statement And An Apology

I have spoken to National Party Leader Todd Muller and informed him that I passed to members of the media, by email, information containing Covid-19 patient details that was given to me by a source. I did this to expose the Government’s shortcomings ... More>>

ALSO:

PM: Labour Will Extend Loan Scheme 'lifeline' For Small Business

Labour has announced its plans to extend the Small Business Loan Cashflow Scheme and spend $162 million on a waterway clean-up package. More>>

ALSO:


Biosecurity: Winston Peters On EU Travel: 'We're Not Going To Compromise Our Country's Health'

Foreign Minister Winston Peters says New Zealanders who head to Europe on holiday should pay for their two weeks' hotel quarantine when they return. More>>

Economy: Infrastructure Investment To Create Jobs, Kick-Start COVID Rebuild

A new package of infrastructure investments will help kick-start the post-COVID rebuild by creating more than 20,000 jobs and unlocking more than $5 billion of projects up and down New Zealand. Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Infrastructure Minister ... More>>

ALSO:

Covid-19: Isolation System To Be Beefed Up After Stress

A range of improvements are already underway to address issues identified in the rapid review of the Managed Isolation and Quarantine system released today, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. The review was commissioned just over a week ago to identify ... More>>

ALSO:

Election 2020: Parties Get Into Gear

ACT has today announced its list for the 2020 General Election. “The calibre and experience of our candidates will impress voters of every persuasion. We have candidates from all walks of life. People who have built their homes, families and businesses ... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels