Govt is still ignoring whānau with the greatest needs

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

The Child Poverty Action Group claims more hardship assistance from the government won’t do anything to lift children out of poverty.

The Ministry of Social Development has raised the income limits for hardship assistance. A person working for 40 hours at the minimum wage could receive $800 per week. A couple with or without children may be eligible for $1600 per week.

But spokesperson Associate Professor Mike O’Brien says today’s announcement will make very little difference to families.

"They are one-off payments and they may be recovered by Work and Income," he said.

"The Government continues to say it is monitoring the situation, but 10 weeks into the lockdown we are still waiting for meaningful income-related support for children and their families.”

Hardship grants are expected to increase by more than 25,000 as people apply for support to buy food and clothing, and pay for heating and electricity.

The Child Poverty Action Group report on the effects of the first year of Covid-19 in Aotearoa, showed Māori children were 3 times more likely than Pākehā children to have been pushed into poverty.

In Auckland only 3.5% of Māori households were deemed to be financially secure during lockdown, compared to 30% of all Pākehā nationally.