The Government recently announced the Mana in Mahi scheme, which aims to subsidise employers taking in 18-24 year olds who have been on the benefit for six months. The scheme will subsidise employers the equivalent to the benefit, topping it up to at least the minimum wage. Auckland Action Against Poverty warns that the scheme is ultimately a corporate subsidy that does not address the underlying causes of poverty and unemployment our youth face.
“We are urging the Government to review the Mana in Mahi scheme to guarantee participants a liveable income. At the very least, people going into the scheme should be paid a living wage and provided guaranteed hours”, said Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.
“People should, if they want to, have access to apprenticeships but they need to be paid a living wage. Either the Government needs to be creating well-paid industries or forcing the private sector to pay a living wage, rather than subsidising it.
“The scheme, in its current form, continues to enable employers to pay low, unliveable wages. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in her announcement, spoke about wanting young people to be able to enjoy the dignity of work but did not address the dignity that comes from having enough to eat and afford basic necessities.
“At the same time, people on the benefit deserve to be paid benefit levels that allow them to live with dignity. Young people not in work are still contributors to society, and to imply that the only way to meaningfully contribute to society is through waged labour is insulting.”