The huge increase in hardship grants paid out in the last quarter shows this Labour-led Government’s policies are making life harder for Kiwis, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.
“In the two years since this Government’s been in office, the number of hardship assistance grants being doled out to Kiwis in dire straits has almost doubled. On every metric, whether it’s food, emergency housing, Special Needs Grants or benefit advances, there’s been an increase in the number of people needing help.
“In the past three months, 570,000 hardship assistance grants were paid out to the tune of almost $170 million. Once again, the taxpayer is footing the bill because this Government’s policies have made it impossible for vulnerable Kiwis to afford basic necessities.
“The raft of new taxes and costs on New Zealanders has driven up the cost of living and hit the most vulnerable hardest.
“Since coming into office, this Government has imposed and threatened more costly regulations on landlords, threatened a Capital Gains Tax, extended the bright-line test and ring-fenced losses on rental properties.
“As a result, rents are up $50 per week, and more and more Kiwis are struggling to put on the table and a roof over their heads.
“More than 270,000 of this quarter’s hardship assistance grants were for food alone, a 116 per cent increase during the Government’s tenure.
“Under National, the number of people seeking hardship assistance from the Ministry of Social Development was much lower due to our strong economy, better job creation and the number of Kiwis going off benefits into work.
“It’s not kind or caring to drive up the cost of living and pitch Kiwis into poverty. The message is clear: New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.”