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NZUSA Supports The Call To Raise Income Support To Unlock Whānau And Individuals From Poverty Before Christmas

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) supports the call to raise income support to unlock whānau and individuals from poverty before Christmas.

Today, NZUSA joined Auckland Action Against Poverty at Parliament to call on the government to lift benefits and low incomes to liveable levels so that New Zealanders have enough to lead full and happy lives. This follows the call of 75 organisations, including NZUSA, who signed an Open Letter calling on senior Ministers to raise benefits, and supported the Auckland Action Against Poverty protest

NZUSA National President, Isabella Lenihan-Ikin, who spoke at the protest today, says “everyone benefits, and our economy benefits, when New Zealanders are trained and educated. However, the weekly cost of being a student, and the limited government support, is a significant barrier to many people being able to begin or continue studying.”

There are two ways that full-time students can access weekly support; Student Allowance or Living Costs. Student Allowance varies in amount but has stringent eligibility criteria, depending on the students individual situation, but Living Costs is a maximum of $239.76 per week.

NZUSA President says “right now, tertiary students across the country are living in poverty because Student Allowance and Living Costs are set at unliveable rates.”

“Students are barely managing to pay their rent, they can’t afford nutritious food to keep them going, and they are forced to live in damp, cold, mouldy flats. Turning on the heater is a luxury many students can’t afford” she says.

“As an immediate measure, benefits, student allowances and StudyLink living costs must be urgently raised. However, there needs to also be transformative overhaul of the welfare system so that every New Zealander, whether they receive a benefit, are studying or in work, has a liveable income” says Lenihan-Ikin.

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