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

 

‘You’re Not Actually Living Life’: Benefit Recipients Suffer Increased Hardship During Covid

Covid-19 exacerbated existing levels of material and emotional hardship for people on low core benefit rates, a new study has found.

Dr Louise Humpage, a sociologist at the University of Auckland who conducted the study in collaboration with Child Poverty Action Group, Auckland Action Against Poverty and FIRST Union, says most benefit recipients were struggling to survive financially before the national lockdown.

“Covid-19 cost hikes in basic groceries and other goods really pushed them over the edge,” she says.

The situation was particularly bad for sole parents and people with disabilities or chronic illness.

“Although many New Zealanders think benefit recipients got a $25 per week increase back in April 2020, many of our interviewees said it didn’t make one iota of difference because they only got a fraction of that due to clawbacks in supplementary assistance.”

She says the enhanced Winter Energy Payment made a bigger difference to their lives but that only lasted three months, and despite minor increases to keep up with inflation, benefit recipients described their lives as “a daily grind” and “soul destroying”.

Dr Humpage believes the findings, which document the extreme effort required to survive on an inadequate income, support a growing recognition that core benefits are too low and need to be significantly increased to ensure the wellbeing of all New Zealand families.

“Given rising concerns about the mental health of New Zealanders, it’s also alarming that benefit recipients found the emotional impact of dealing with Work and Income (WINZ) so challenging they avoided contact, even when this meant going without food or entitlements,” she says.

Participants said that at WINZ “they make you small” and there was “no care, no compassion”, even for women seeking support after leaving violent relationships.

Dr Humpage stresses that the stigma and shame already associated with receiving a benefit in New Zealand worsened when the Covid-19 Income Relief Payment was introduced.

“Paid at a higher rate and with fewer conditions, this benefit suggests those who lost their jobs due to Covid-19 are more deserving than other benefit recipients.”

Participants described the new Covid-19 benefit as a “kick in the guts” given they are expected to continue to struggle on much lower core benefit rates, despite having high health costs or raising children alone.

The findings also suggest that unemployment insurance, which is under consideration by the government, would enhance the view that some New Zealanders are ‘deserving’ and others are not, Dr Humpage believes.

“Some recipients already feel like they are excluded from the ‘team of five million’ and a two-tiered benefit system would only further highlight that the ‘kindness’ the government asks us to demonstrate does not extend to those on core benefits.”

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Yesterday’s Big Parliamentary Air Kiss To China

In order to obtain support from the two major parties, Act Party deputy leader Brooke Van Velden twice had to soften the language of her parliamentary motion yesterday condemning China’s persecution of the Uighurs. The key word “genocide” was deleted. Evidently, the kind of resolution passed by a conservative government in the UK proved to be far too tough for a centre-left Labour government and a centre-right National opposition to countenance. Yesterday, the two major parties were united in their fear of retribution from China... More>>

 

Government: Fair Pay Agreements To Improve Pay And Conditions For Essential Workers

The Government is delivering on its pre-election commitment to implement Fair Pay Agreements which will improve wages and conditions, as well as help support our economic recovery, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today. More>>

ALSO:

Public Services: Government Sets Pay And Workforce Expectations For The Public Sector

The Government’s Workforce Policy Statement issued today sets out its expectations for pay and employment relations in the Public Sector, the Minister of Finance and Minister for the Public Service say. “New Zealand has had an exceptionally successful ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Budget 2021 Reprioritises Nearly $1 Billion

Hon Grant Robertson Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Finance The Government’s strong pandemic response and the better than expected economic recovery means not all the money allocated in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has been spent, ... More>>

ALSO:


PM: Statement On The Speaker And Annual Review Debate

“The serious issue of alleged sexual assault and harassment at Parliament was poorly managed and inappropriately politicised last night. The tone of the debate did not reflect well on Parliament as a whole,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. ... More>>

Parliament: Mallard Fails To Give Taxpayers A Straight Answer

Trevor Mallard has confirmed he is unfit to be Parliament’s Speaker by failing to answer several important questions relating to the false rape accusation saga that cost taxpayers more than $330,000, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says. ... More>>

Local Government: Independent Review To Explore Future

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says an independent review of local government will explore how councils can maintain and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders in the communities they serve long into the future. More>>

ALSO:

PM Ardern And PM Morrison: Commencement Of Two-Way Quarantine-Free Travel Between Australia And New Zealand

Joint Statement by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern Commencement of two-way quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand Today, Australia and New Zealand have fulfilled their commitment to establish two-way quarantine free ... More>>

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels