Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says that if the Deputy Prime Minister has indicated progress is slow for welfare reform, an appropriate and timely response would be for the Government to urgently adopt the simple and effective changes outlined in a briefing paper released by CPAG this morning.
Specifically the Prime Minister and Cabinet should act to reduce the harms associated with cruel investigations of sole parents, most often mothers, by individualising benefits and updating the rules about establishing a relationship as being in the nature of a marriage from a six-week period to three years, in accordance with the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.
When Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Winston Peters was questioned at today’s 4pm Post Cabinet Press Conference about whether, to date, Government’s progress on welfare reform was sufficient to help those most affected by neglectful policy, he answered “not yet”.
While he said there were more changes in the pipeline he was not able to give details.
“We appreciate that the Government is working hard to put together a plan to address the 42 over-arching recommendations and over 100 detailed recommendations in the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s Whakamana Tāngata report,” says CPAG executive officer Georgie Craw. “What we are asking is that they make some simple, effective changes that will relieve stress among low-income families on benefits. We want everyone to live free from the constraints of poverty.
“Today they could say ‘Yes’ to extending the Winter Energy Payment for all low-income families until a firm plan is in place around increasing benefits, they could say ‘Yes’ to changing the relationship rules that put undue strain on relationships, reduce income for children, and make people fearful of falling in love, and they could say ‘Yes’ to helping more people with their transition to work by changing the abatement thresholds for earned income.”
Renee Manella, a sole mother who receives a benefit said earlier today that “if the Government puts in place all of CPAG’s priority recommendations from the WEAG’s report we can make kids and their families healthier, happier, and more active in our communities.”
“Let’s make this a ‘Yes’ moment for children and whānau in Aotearoa,” adds Craw.