The small accommodation supplement increases made under National’s 2017 budget are finally being implemented by the Labour Government. But beneficiaries are still left wanting for basic items such as food.
“The current costs of living are leaving beneficiaries struggling to pay their rent and feed themselves and their families, and a marginal increase to benefit levels signals the Government has no sense of urgency to put an end to poverty in Aotearoa”, says Ricardo Menendez, Auckland Action Against Poverty’s spokesperson.
“Some people will be getting as little as $3-$6 extra a week, an amount that is going to be eaten by the rapidly increasing cost of rent across the country—particularly when you consider the average rent price in Auckland was $508 at the end of 2017.
“Without a truly substantial increase to the number of state homes—or policy that protects tenants from rent increases—it’s difficult to imagine how accommodation supplement increases will go towards providing secure tenancy to our most vulnerable communities.
“Right now landlords can simply increase rent to match the increase of the accommodation supplement. Jacinda Ardern and her Labour led Government should do what is morally right and introduce rent controls and build more state homes, so that they don’t leave people’s well being at the mercy of landlords.
“The Labour led government’s ability to substantially reduce poverty is also being hamstrung by its Budget Responsibility Rules, which arbitrarily limit Core Crown Spending and debt to levels below many other OECD countries. Higher levels of Government spending will be needed to substantially increase benefit levels and remove punitive sanctions, like the sanctions on solo mothers.
“Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Government to raise the lid on its spending and debt limits above what the Budget Responsibility Rules would allow to immediately put an end to sanctions on beneficiaries, raise income levels and build the number of state homes required to lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty.
“The Government has the resources and tools available to provide a liveable income to all people in Aotearoa, but its willingness to move past the neoliberal politics of the past 40 years will be put at test in next months’ Budget”.