This is a real story, in their own words, that appeared on Facebook a few months ago. It deserves a wider audience. This families plight highlights the pressure many families (particularly in Christchurch) are facing.
Hooray for our National Government!
Let me tell you just how well they have supported my family over the last twelve months.
We started off 2013 full of hope that finally things were going to get better. Our children were at new schools and beginning to recover from the trauma of being trapped in the CBD during the earthquake. Having lost our source of income as a result of the earthquake I retrained as a teacher. My husband and I both had teaching jobs. As a beginning teacher and teacher Aide our salaries were very low but at least we were earning.
Strike 1: We were earning but not receiving. Novopay! That wonderful new acquisition of our caring and intelligent government hit us hard. For months we were not paid properly or at all in my husband’s case. This meant that we quickly fell into debt as we had no income. Paying interest on the debt cost us thousands by the end of the year.
Strike 2: My job was a fixed term position for 1 year. That’s ok. I’m sure to find another one… except the government has closed so many Christchurch schools that even many experienced teachers are out of work. So no more jobs available. Way to go government! As if we haven’t suffered enough in Christchurch!
Strike 3: Thank goodness we have a welfare system to help us out in times of trouble. Our incredibly generous government has worked its magic on the welfare system too. Revamping it to make sure those nasty beneficiaries don’t eat into their coffers and mess up the budget surplus targets. So despite being unemployed I am ineligible for a benefit. The reason being that the $379.28 that my husband brings home each week during the school term (as a teacher aide he does not get paid for school holidays) is too much for me to qualify. We can claim an accommodation supplement of $120 per week.
Strike 4: $120 per week accommodation supplement doesn’t go very far in Christchurch thesedays. But if we lived in Auckland we could get more because housing is so much more expensive there. Really? A small 1960’s house with 2 1/2 bedrooms and no insulation is at least $450 a week in Christchurch. A search on Trademe revealed 68 3 bedroom houses available for rent in Auckland for $350 per week or less. There were no 3 bedroom houses for that price in Christchurch. Aah yes there is a housing shortage but the government will not increase the accommodation supplement or do anything to stop the profiteering of landlords. Or make resolving the housing shortage a priority.
Why? Who knows… it seems that people are not as important as those good old market forces – our friends supply and demand.
It is interesting to consider that during a similarly traumatic and destructive national emergency (World War 2), it was illegal to profiteer in this way. In fact in the UK, profiteering like this was akin to treason and carried the death penalty.
Strike 5: So, here we are. A family of two adults and two hungry teenagers and two cats living on $568.28 per week for 40 weeks of the year and $189 per week for the rest when you include our
family tax rebate. Our rent was $470 per week and it was costing $110 per week for my husband to commute to his job. In order to save money we have put the kids into the school where my husband works and moved close by. Our rent is now $450 per week and we are locked into it for the next twelve months. We signed the contract believing that we would be entitled to a benefit that would give me an income and believing that for $450 a week it would be insulated and safe if not beautiful.
We were wrong. We were unable to find anything cheaper despite searching for months. I had applied for a benefit in the first week of February after my previous employment contract ended.
Unfortunately, WINZ were having a tough few months and it took them until the 6th process my application. They declined it. If I had known that it would be declined I would not have signed the tenancy three weeks earlier.
Strike 6: Novopay strikes again! Novopay failed to pay me correctly at the end of my contract so I am still owed a week’s pay. Novopay refuse to talk to teachers and will only talk to the pay officer in the school. I notified the school over a month ago and they say that they have referred the matter to Novopay. Nothing more they can do. Novopay won’t talk to me so I can’t find out where my money is. Stalemate!
So as you can see our wonderful government has taken an ordinary family and crushed it through the accumulated impact of the decisions of their various departments. We survived the earthquake and after three years the physical and psychological injuries are starting to heal. Unfortunately, we won’t survive this government. I don’t know what I can possibly do to change my situation. I have tried every avenue I can think of. Years of hard work all for nothing.
It baffles me that such a government could ever be elected by reasonable people. But then I guess Hitler was elected too… I am sure there are well meaning people in the government somewhere but I wonder if they really appreciate the impact of the decisions that they make on ordinary people.