Māori Party wants benefit rates increase

By Maiki Sherman

The Māori Party are pushing for an increase in benefit rates, particularly for the most vulnerable such as parents with children.

According to co-leader Marama Fox, there has only been a slight increase in benefit rates over the years and they would like to work with the Government to address the issue.

When Fox entered Parliament, she was essentially appointed as the challenger on issues that didn't sit well with the Māori Party and we've seen that in the last few months.

Her latest issue is benefits, she says they're too low and must be lifted.  

Children living in poverty is the major concern for Fox who says they should be the focus when setting benefit rates.

“We think the benefit rate is too low and that needs to change.  Those on a benefit live in poverty but it's their children who go to school hungry and without shoes,” she explains.

Marama Fox says the Government is slow when it comes to increasing the benefit.  According to statistics from 2009-2014, a couple with children had their benefit increase by $31 per week.

For a sole parent with children, a $26 increase.

However, if you look at superannuation, a single pensioner received a rise of $56 per week.

Fox says, “Yes it's good to encourage them to find a job but in the meantime we don't want them or their children going hungry.  That is what's important to me, family.”

Children's Commissioner Russell Wills says a review is necessary."

“The only thing that's really going to work is to review incomes, taxes, and benefits as a whole system.”

The Māori Party says it will also continue to lobby the Government over the issue.

Jo Goodhew says, “Nothing's off the table when it comes to budget 2015-2016, and we will continue to work collaboratively with the Māori Party to look at ways we can assist these vulnerable families."

The Prime Minister certainly made a pledge for poverty to be a major issue for the Government, so we will have to wait and see what comes out of the Budget in the coming months.