Queues started forming at 6.30am on the first day of Auckland Action Against Poverty’s fourth beneficiary ‘impact’ at Mangere Work & Income.
“Even our most seasoned advocates were surprised at the number of people waiting when they arrived to start work this morning,” says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.
“Over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week our crew of over hundred volunteers are doing everything possible to help people access the assistance to which they’re entitled.
“Ideally people should be receiving their full entitlements from Work & Income as a matter of course.
“Instead we are seeing hundreds of people in desperate need, often with no food in the house, and not even the most basic of household equipment like beds, a washing machine or a frig.
“On top of that, many are not getting the full amount of benefit or supplementary assistance to which they’re entitled, in situations where $30, $40 or $50 a week more makes a huge difference.
“It’s an indictment of government welfare policy and practice that so many are in this situation – and we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“By lunchtime today we had to start turning people away as so many were already waiting. We’re asking people to come back tomorrow.
“By the end of the week we hope to have assisted at least 600 – 700 people depending on how well Work & Income’s systems manage.
“MSD have put on over 30 extra staff for the impact, but ongoing computer breakdowns have slowed things down.
“To help people cope with the delays, AAAP has had the BBQ going all day with bread & sausages on offer. We’ve just ordered a thousand more sausages for tomorrow.”