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Change In Abatement Threshold Needed To Lift Underemployed Out Of Poverty

Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Government to increase abatement thresholds and lift benefits to liveable levels to support people affected by the growth of unemployment due to COVID-19.

“Unemployment numbers do not tell us whether people are receiving enough income to live with dignity. While unemployment may have slightly decreased, more people are working less hours than they need and beneficiaries continue to be impacted by the rising cost of living”, says Brooke Fiafia, Auckland Action Against Poverty Spokesperson.

“The focus by the Government needs to go beyond the narrow vision of keeping people employed, but rather ensuring everyone has enough income to cover housing costs, bills, and all other basic expenses. Recognising that people do critical labour to sustain our society outside of paid work, such as caregiving and community service, requires us to acknowledge its value and fight for anyone living below the poverty line. The growing inequality resulting from the effects of COVID-19 means there will be a group of people who will inevitably be unemployed or in part-time casualised employment. We as a nation have an opportunity to ensure no one is left behind.

“The Income Relief Payment showed us that the Government can act boldly to introduce a new benefit type and make drastic changes to our welfare system to lift people out of poverty. Now is the time to permanently lift incomes and ensure that people do not miss out on income support because they are in part-time employment.

“Our low abatement thresholds mean a jobseeker beneficiary would start losing their benefit once they earn over $80 a week. We are calling on the Government to individualise benefits, increase them to liveable levels and shift the abatement threshold to at least $50,000, with an abatement rate of 20% so that everyone, no matter their employment status doesn’t ever have to choose between paying their food or covering their rent”

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