Auckland Action Against Poverty claims budget boost for low-income families not enough

Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) says every week they assist hundreds of people who queue outside the Clendon Work and Income offices in South Auckland  looking for Emergency Assistance. AAAP believe the boost for low-income families in this year's Budget  won't do enough to make a real difference. 

Finance Minister Steven Joyce announced a $2 bill annual Family Incomes Package which will make changes to tax thresholds, Working for Families and the Accommodation Supplement.

The Government says low-income families will benefit from the package but AAAP believes increases in the Accommodation Supplement (AS) means an equal deduction from Temporary Additional Support (TAS).

AAAP spokesperson Vanessa Cole says ,“The government is cynically hiding behind the complexity of the welfare payments. Steven Joyce admitted in his Budget speech today that TAS, a payment that tops up accommodation costs, will be affected. If AS increases, TAS will decrease dollar for dollar.”

Cole says her organisation assists hundreds of people who queue outside the Clendon Work and Income office every week for emergency assistance.

She says the changes announced in the budget wont help them enough and the need will still be great.

“People and whānau will be no better off with the new increases in AS in a private rental market characterised by monopoly rents.

“This increase in AS is emblematic of National’s denial of a housing crisis which is forcing people and whānau into motels and cars,” says Cole.

“The AS is a transfer of wealth from the government to a landlord. It is not the solution to the housing crisis, it only incentivises landlords to increase rents.

  “The private market will never provide affordable housing for unemployed and low-waged workers. The National party subsidises landlords, developers and motels instead of building state housing.

“A massive build of state housing, with universal access, will create competition with the private market, forcing landlords to decrease their rents and creating affordability across the board.

According to the Government the Families Income Package;

Increases the $14,000 income tax threshold to $22,000, and the $48,000 tax threshold to $52,000

Discontinues the Independent Earner Tax Credit

Increases the Family Tax Credit rates for young children to the level of those for children aged 16 to 18

Increases the Accommodation Supplement maximum amounts to reflect 2016 rents and makes some changes to Accommodation Supplement areas

Increases weekly Accommodation Benefit payments by up to $20 for eligible Student Allowance recipients.