The Green Party says the Government needs to do more for those on the lowest incomes as inflation outpaces wage and benefit increases.
Stats NZ released the household living-costs price indexes for the March 2022 quarter, which shows household living-costs continue to rise and are hurting those on the lowest incomes.
“The burden of high inflation is felt by those whānau on the lowest incomes, especially our beneficiaries who feel it the most,” says Ricardo Menéndez March, Green spokesperson for social development and employment.
“When incomes are low, even a small increase in costs of food and other essentials can be the difference between making ends meet and not – and these are huge increases in costs.
“Last week’s benefit stats showed there is more and more money being given in hardship assistance for food and housing costs. Benefit increases aren’t enough to keep pace with increased costs of living and it’s not good enough. Simply, people are struggling and we need to do more to support them.
“The Green Party has the vision for what we can do to support all people to live with dignity, and that includes:
- Further increases to benefits
- Expanding and simplifying Working for Families, so more money goes to families who need it, especially those receiving income from benefits
- Break up the supermarket duopoly, and
- Cancel debt owed to MSD for hardship assistance such as benefit advances, and for over-payments.
“Half a million New Zealanders currently have debt to MSD because they are not able to meet their basic expenses and are forced to take out loans, even for basics like power bills or dental treatment.
“The repayments, which are higher for women and Māori on average, are currently reducing their weekly income to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. Wiping debt to MSD would be a cost-effective way to quickly boost incomes and provide relief in this inflated economy.”