The fourth AAAP beneficiary ‘impact’ at Mangere is now over.
In three days over a hundred AAAP volunteers worked with a team of more than 30 Work & Income staff to assist somewhere between 600 – 700 people get their full entitlements.
Many hundreds more people in desperate need were turned away. Video is available here:
‘Even the most experienced of us are devastated by the scale of poverty and desperation we’ve seen this week, and by the inability of both our own people and MSD to meet the needs of those who came for help,’ says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.
‘It is clear that things have become much worse for a lot more people than when we organised our last impact at Mangere in August 2014, a year and a half ago.
‘The New Zealand we’ve been seeing this week is much more akin to what we’d expect in a developing country than in a comparatively well off society like ours.
‘Families walked for miles with babies in their arms to get help. One large family drove all the way from Whangarei simply to get a food grant. Sadly, the latter were among the hundreds turned away.
‘It is a true indictment of our welfare system that people are unable to get simple things like food grants from their local Work & Income office when they manifestly need them, and are entitled to them.
‘It is also a disgrace that successive National and Labour-led governments have refused to restore benefit levels to their pre-1991 equivalents.
‘Much of the poverty we’re seeing this week is because of massive debts to both Work & Income and to private lenders, brought about because people never have enough money to live on from one week to the next.
‘We’re also seeing a lot more people who are caught between part time, casual and temporary low paid work and the benefit system.
‘AAAP continues to be shocked by the indifference of government and others to the plight of unemployed people, beneficiaries and precarious workers.
‘Our current welfare legislation and Work & Income culture needs a total overhaul, alongside a serious government commitment to decent jobs, adequate housing and affordable education for all.’