Topics: BUDGET, Politics

We want a torrent not a trickle - Poverty action group

By Mānia Clarke
  • Auckland

Action groups against poverty say the 2017 budget is not enough to lift the country's most needy whānau out of poverty. Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) believe the boost for low-income families in this year's Budget won't do enough to make a real difference. 

While the government say the new budget will help low and middle income families, people are still lining up outside WINZ.

AAAP spokesperson Jim Bailey says "We need to instantly raise benefits.  A benefit at the moment is one third of what's been identified as a living wage. A living wage is the ability to actually live with dignity and contribute to our society."

CPAG say the governments $2 billion annual Family Incomes Package set to help around 1.3 million families by, on average $26 per week won't help the most impoverished whānau.

"It's a recognition in some ways of the problem but not going far enough in terms of a solution. It's a trickle not a torrent and we need a torrent," says CPAG supporter, Dr Hirini Kaa.

"The big problem for this is there's not enough money and some of it is going in the wrong places.  So at best this budget will leave us with nearly 100, 000 children in poverty by the governments own measures, said Auckland University Assoc Professor, Damon Salesa.

Since November last year AAAP have been assisting hundreds of people who queue outside the South Auckland's Clendon Work and Income office every Friday for emergency assistance.

"It's a bit of a war for people and our most vulnerable people feel like they have to really stand up for themselves and it's hard to do that. Some people don't know that they're not getting their full entitlement. Their full entitlements under this budget hardly change," said Bailey. 

"The wages need to grow because basically we have a budget that is giving us more money on paper but is really only enough money to stand still, because prices are going up, inflation is increasing," said Salesa.

The Family Income Package to put more cash in the hands of low earning families takes affect in April next year, if National remain in government after this years election.