Residents in many parts of Auckland have lost their household contents due to the recent flooding. Photo / RNZ / Soumya Bhamidipati
The Green Party is calling on the government to double the maximum amount it is paying out to flood-affected Aucklanders, through the Civil Defence payments.
"We do think a significant event like this does require the government looking at injecting the necessary resources to support our families," said the party's social development spokesperson, Ricardo Menéndez March.
"If we don't support families right now, and they get sick from having to survive in unhealthy conditions, there's going to be greater costs later down the line."
The payments, administered through the Ministry of Social Development, were set up following Auckland's declaration of a state of emergency, and help pay for temporary accommodation, necessary items like food, clothing, and bedding, or to assist with lost income for those unable to work.
They vary depending on what they are paying for, as well as the applicant's circumstances.
For example, a single person needing help to pay for food, clothing, or bedding can receive a maximum of $400.
A couple can receive $600, a couple or sole parent with one to two children can get $900, and a couple or sole parent with three or more children is eligible for up to $1100.
Some of the payments (such as accommodation support for those staying with friends or family) increase for each dependent child, while others (like the payment for people staying in hotels and motels) are the same for parents regardless of how many children they have.
While the Civil Defence payment was reviewed last year, Menéndez March understood the amount paid out for food, clothing, and bedding was the same as it was in July 2013. Food prices have risen 26 percent since then.
"Four hundred dollars for a single person to replace all of their bedding, food, and clothing isn't really enough. That amount hasn't been adjusted for inflation for almost 10 years."
He said the payments did not meet the needs of larger families, those already on low incomes, or people whose homes and possessions have been destroyed.
"Many who were already struggling to get by on a sunny, good day will be doing it even tougher during the recovery of the floods."
The payments were also only available for those with visas, meaning overstayers would not be able to access the support, and instead would have to rely on charity.
"Natural disasters do not discriminate based on immigration status, but our government can do," Menéndez March said.
He believed doubling the maximum payment for household essentials would not have a significant budgetary impact, as it would be a one off.