Polling released today shows that 47% of people support individuals accessing income support payments whether they are in relationships or not.
The same UMR poll also shows that 53% of Labour Party voters want the MSD policy to change and only 24% support the rules as they currently stand.
ActionStation’s Economic Fairness Campaigner Ruby Powell says the government has shown it can provide decent income support through the Covid-19 income support payment.
“The Covid-19 payment ensures people have enough money in the bank to stay on their feet and allows people to access the support as long as their partner earns under $2,000 a week.”
Powell says this poll shows as a society, and Labour voters especially, are ready for a welfare system based on dignity and kindness.
“Allowing people in relationships to access income support is an important step to unlocking a fairer and more vibrant Aotearoa,” says Powell.
Powell says we have a clear choice in the months to come.
“Either we update our welfare system to ensure everyone has a decent income and has opportunities to contribute their unique talents to our collective future, and we all thrive. Or we continue down this pathway which will lock more and more individuals and families into poverty for decades to come.”
Powell says our welfare system is an important part of the solution to a country free of poverty, but it’s current design means it’s part of the problem.
“Everyone will benefit from a welfare system designed with dignity and common sense. A good step towards this will be through ensuring everyone can access income support regardless of their relationship status,” said Powell.
Child Poverty Action Group researcher Janet McAllister says part of eliminating poverty starts with dealing to the income support system which holds back so many of our most vulnerable families and this week CPAG has released a set of policy recommendations on how an incoming Government can dramatically reduce poverty.
“Our current income support system has too often entrenched inequities, indignity and intergenerational trauma,” she says.
“It penalises people in relationships and it keeps those caring for children or unable to work below the poverty line.”
McAllister says CPAG’s vision is for a income support system which upholds the mana and dignity of all people.
“Such a system would guarantee all of us an adequate standard of living regardless of our ethnicity, gender, age or relationship status,” she says.
“It would protect all children and their families and whānau, including families in low-paid work.”
Among the recommendations, CPAG is calling for the Social Security Act to be rewritten to embed kaupapa Maori values into this piece of legislation, raise all benefit levels, individualise benefits, remove sanctions for parents of dependent children, forgive any existing MSD debt, and extend the In-Work Tax Credit to all those eligible for a benefit.
– ActionStation and Child Poverty Action Group are one of 22 organisations who have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for MSD’s relationship rules to be changed. Other signees include unions, domestic violence support services and children’s charities.
– Click here for a summary of the UMR polling results.
– Click here to see CPAG’s income support policy recommendations.