The Welfare Expert Advisory Group announced this morning by the Labour led Government must not be used as a fodder to delay any immediate and urgent action on our broken welfare system. While Auckland Action Against Poverty welcomes a wider long-term overhaul, which may include the removal of all sanctions and obligations, people on the benefit are being made to wait while we have one of the coldest winters in years.
“The commitment to establish a working group to look at an overhaul of the welfare system shouldn’t delay legislative action on sanctions against solo parents, which the Labour agreed to removing separate to the establishment of the working group”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.
“We have concerns that the voices of people currently on a benefit and experiencing the welfare system are not adequately represented in the panel, with the vast majority of people coming from institutionalised spaces. It is the people who are directly affected by the welfare system that should have the biggest say in the changes the working group is to recommend.
“Having only one person to speak for the lived experiences of a large community amounts to nothing but lip service levels of representation. The group risks being disconnected from realities that independent frontline beneficiary rights advocates see every day in our most vulnerable communities.
“Independent community groups and beneficiaries have been sharing their visions for a fairer welfare system for years. Auckland Action Against poverty has contact with thousands of beneficiaries each year. These people have all experienced the toxic culture of Work and income. Based on this contact AAAP has consistently highlighted issues and suggested solutions.
“There is no other group in the country with this level of track record of standing with beneficiaries. There is no other group that is truly independent of Government funding, willing and able to challenge the status quo.
“We are disappointed that Dr. Sue Bradford, nominated by AAAP as a member of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group has not being appointed. Dr. Sue Bradford would provide credible independent voice on the Welfare Working Group.
“Auckland Action Against Poverty considers all sanctions to be excessive. None of the sanctions have so far contributed to placing people in meaningful, well paid jobs or a livable income. The Greens’ commitment to removing all sanctions and obligations on beneficiaries will be tested by the vague definition of what is considered to be excessive.
“Auckland Action Against Poverty looks forward to working to ensure the recommendations by the welfare working group deliver genuine change. We expect that the Welfare Expert Advisory Group will undertake appropriate consultation with Auckland Action Against Poverty as a key stakeholder on the issues they are addressing.”