Call for more support for whānau relying on benefits

By Mahina Hurkmans

Despite additional support from Government, many whānau are still locked in poverty.

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) researched 12 model families to see whether they will be able to reach the Government's key poverty lines if they were receiving all the entitlements from welfare and it was clear that there was no chance.

"Even with the income support increases this year we've still got families who will be potentially hundreds of dollars a week below the Government's own key official poverty lines, that's a lot of money to miss out on when you extrapolate that over a number of weeks and even months," says Janet McAllister from CPAG.

"That means for a family of two adults and two children on a job seekers benefit in a two-bedroom low quartile rent house in Auckland, they will be nearly $200 a week below that 50 per cent line. That was surprising to me I was not suspecting the amounts to be so low but they are appalling."
She says the system needs to change to cater to all the many different types of family circumstances.

"The income support system is very, very complex as well as being inadequate," claims McAllister.

"The welfare system needs to be completely retreaded it needs to be decolonised so we are looking after different types of whānau and not just your nuclear family."

She also says these changes need to be made to be able to make a real difference for struggling whānau.

"Individualising benefits so you get your benefits no matter what your partner is getting in terms of income support rather than both trying to survive on a smaller benefit would be good and also increasing working for families or extending working for families to all low-income families so that people who are on benefits, as well as people who are on wages, get all their entitlements they need."