CPAG calls on Government to rethink benefit changes

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has called on the Government to rethink and improve its 2015 Budget announcements on benefit changes.

CPAG says the OECD’s latest report on the New Zealand economy highlights the need for more focus and support for beneficiaries.

The report recommends, "Increasing main (basic) benefits and indexing them to median wages would reduce poverty across all beneficiary classes, including single-person households (below age 65), who have the second-highest relative risk of poverty."

CPAG Economics spokesperson says the 2015 budget increases social welfare benefits by a flat $25 per family in 2016.

She says,"This will make the benefit structure less transparent by reintroducing a child-related element into the adult benefit. It is a very poor way to help children, as it takes no account of the number of children in a family or their ages. Furthermore, all beneficiaries need more income not just some. The disappointingly long lead-in time for this policy change gives an opportunity to improve it and make it more effective."

CPAG says to make a real impact and help combat poverty in New Zealand all benefits should be lifted by 10% and indexed to median wages.

Susan St John says "Poverty rates could be cut by increasing social benefits, which have been falling relative to wages”.

CPAG says the Government needs to build on what was  started in this year's budget and develop a comprehensive plan aimed at reducing poverty.