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Anti-Poverty Campaigners Say Welfare Increases Are “Too Little, Too Late”

ActionStation has acknowledged steps in the right direction in Budget 2021 but criticised the slow roll-out of changes to the welfare system and the scale of the changes.

ActionStation economic fairness campaigner Ruby Powell says “These increases are simply too little too late. Rents have skyrocketed, food prices have gone up and Covid-19 has pushed those with least deeper into poverty since the 2019 WEAG recommendations were made.”

The Budget announced a $20 increase to core benefits on 1 July, with further additional increases on 1 April next year.

"We're glad to see some action on benefits, thanks to the work of campaigners and the shifting mood of the public, but the benefit increases will not provide enough for people to live with dignity in Aotearoa in 2021," says Powell.

“The small and slow increases to income support in this Budget will mean people across the country will continue to face impossible choices, like choosing between heating their homes or buying food,” continues Powell.

"We were especially disappointed to see the lack of support for our disabled whānau and young adults within the changes announced yesterday, and the lack of changes to MSD's punitive relationship rules or sanctions," adds Powell. "Without those changes this Budget cannot be seen as delivering on the Welfare Expert Advisory Group's recommendations."

"This shows that people power works, but we will keep working shoulder-to-shoulder with our collaborators to achieve genuine transformation in our welfare system," says Powell.

A poll conducted by UMR in February showed that 69% of people in New Zealand back increases in income support.

ActionStation is not the first to highlight the inadequacy of minor increases in benefit levels.

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