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NGOs To Government: Benefits Must Be Increased By Christmas

ActionStation is one of 53 NGOs who are calling on the government to raise benefit rates before Christmas via an open letter launched this morning.

The NGOs have signed an open letter addressed to PM Jacinda Ardern, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni and Minister for Finance Grant Robertson stating the situation is urgent.

Economic Fairness Campaigner from ActionStation Ruby Powell says no matter our differences, as a society we share a responsibility to make sure everyone in our country has a decent standard of living and the same chances in life.

"Increasing benefits will unlock opportunities for those doing it hardest. Increasing income support rates would help Aotearoa become a place where all children have the opportunity to thrive. It would allow them opportunities to explore their talents and fully participate in their communities," says Powell.

"This election, as a society we voted for stability and kindness. Now we are asking for that stability and kindness to be extended to the individuals and whānau locked in poverty by low benefit rates," continues Powell.

Stacey Ryan's illness has meant she's needed government support for almost eight years.

Ryan says the insufficient income she receives limits her ability to get the healthcare she needs and her ability to participate in her community.

"For me, everything comes down to income. Beneficiaries usually don't have home loans or mortgages, so the extra money we get won't be going to the banks. It will go back into our communities, allowing local businesses to make more revenue, hire more staff at decent wages, thereby producing more taxes to go back to the government, which can then go toward services such as education and healthcare. If we raise benefit levels, the entire country will benefit from it."

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The open letter lists record breaking unemployment increases, the surge in demand for emergency hardship grants and youth homelessness, and decades of underinvestment in the welfare system as reasons for the government to increase income support rates.

The open letter finishes by stating “Before the election, the Labour party has consistently said there's more work to be done to lift families out of poverty. You now have the mandate and opportunity to do so. Please increase income support before Christmas.”

Other signatories to the open letter include unions, church groups, foodbanks, family violence services and women's organisations.

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