Over 50 prominent organisations have joined together to urge the government to raise income support by Christmas, in order to release families from dire poverty.
Unions, social service NGOs, housing providers, churches and groups representing Māori, women, children and people with disabilities are among those who have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson urging them to lift inadequate welfare payments to “liveable” levels.
“The depth and breadth of organisations who have come together to make this call shows the consensus that this new government needs to immediately increase income support rates,” says ActionStation economic fairness campaigner Ruby Powell.
Signatories include the Council of Trade Unions, National Council of Women, Mental Health Foundation, Citizens Advice Bureau, Tokona Te Raki (Māori Futures Collective), Salvation Army, Disabled Persons Assembly and Whānau Āwhina Plunket.
“The situation is urgent,” the organisations say in the letter, citing the surge in emergency hardship grants and youth homelessness, and blaming long-term underinvestment in income support, high housing costs, and ongoing COVID-19 economic fallout including increases in unemployment.
The signatories ask the government to apply “common sense” to “make sure everyone, whether they are working, caring for children, living with a disability or illness, learning, or have lost their jobs before or because of COVID-19, has a liveable income.” They say the extra support made available to those who lose their jobs due to COVID-19 shows the government understands “current benefit levels are insufficient and lock families and children into poverty.”
Auckland Action Against Poverty say they are worried people will struggle to survive over summer.
“This government has said they want to lead for every New Zealander,” says AAAP coordinator Brooke Stanley Pao. “Part of this is ensuring those facing direct financial difficulties and crisis aren’t immediately locked into poverty by low income support rates.
This is what is happening now for increasing numbers of people across the country.”
Child Poverty Action Group notes the government aims to make Aotearoa a great place to be a child.
“If income support were adequate, we could all sleep better at night knowing that we have collectively all done our bit to support parents and caregivers in their important mission, and ensured all children have more of an opportunity to have a safe, carefree, lively and playful childhood,” says CPAG’s Janet McAllister. “Paid work is simply not possible for everyone. Meeting the needs of our children – ensuring we’re no longer denying them their rights – is the least we can do.
“The support for liveable incomes is strong and widespread.”
Dear Jacinda, Carmel and Grant,
No matter who we are or where we live, we know that our wellbeing is interconnected with those around us.
When everyone has what they need to look after themselves and fully participate in their communities, we all flourish.
We all want every child in Aotearoa to experience a thriving and happy childhood. But right now, hundreds of thousands of children are constrained by poverty, despite parents’ best efforts.
We’ve had a long period of low wages and high housing costs. For decades, governments have underinvested in key public services that build well-being in all our communities, like public housing and income support. Many governments have prioritised policies that help the already well-off, including people who make money from housing.
As a result, too many parents are under-resourced, overstressed, and unable to give their children real opportunities to thrive.
Now due to the ongoing COVID-19 economic fallout, more families are being pushed into poverty.
Unemployment has risen at a record-breaking pace – increasing by nearly a third in the three months to September. Foodbanks and youth homelessness services are reporting huge increases in demand. By Christmas, it’s expected Work and Income will have allocated over 2.5 million hardship grants and advances this year alone.
The situation is urgent. As the new government, you can release the growing constraints on individuals, families, and children.
We are calling on you to lift one of the biggest limitations on whānau and child wellbeing: not having enough income.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, you acted quickly to set up the COVID income relief payment, which is nearly twice the amount of the usual jobseeker benefit.
You showed us that you understand that current benefit levels are insufficient and lock families and children into poverty – an issue that affects all of us.
Now, we are asking you to apply the same common sense approach to all income support. To make sure everyone, whether they are working, caring for children, living with a disability or illness, learning, or have lost their jobs before or because of COVID-19, has a liveable income.
Doing so will help achieve your vision of making Aotearoa the best place to be a child.
Before the election, the Labour party has consistently said there’s more work to be done to lift families out of poverty. You now have the mandate and opportunity to do so. Please increase income support before Christmas.
Auckland Action Against Poverty
Auckland City Mission
Auckland Womens Centre
Belong Aotearoa
Beneficiaries & Unwaged Worker Trust
Beneficiary Advocacy Services Christchurch
NZCCS Disability Action
Child Poverty Action Group
Citizens Advice Bureau
Community Networks Aotearoa
Disabled Person’s Assembly
Equality Network
Manaaki Rangatahi
Manawatū Tenants’ Union
Māngere East Family Services
Mental Health Foundation
Methodist Alliance
Monte Cecilia Housing Trust
National Council of Women
New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations
Ngā Tāngata Microfinance
NZ Disability Advisory Trust
NZEI Te Riu Roa
Pacific Women’s Watch NZ
Public Issues Network: Methodist Church
Public Service Association
Renters United
Salvation Army
Save the Children
Social Justice Group of the Auckland Anglican Diocese
Social Link
St Matthews in the City
Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services
Tick for Kids
Tokona Te Raki
Urban Neighbours of Hope
Waipareira Trust
We Are Beneficiaries
Wesley Community Action
Whānau Āwhina Plunket


  1. You’re just as ridiculous as the Democrats that expect Biden to be any less of a corporatist than Trump.
    Adern will butter the side of the toast that keeps her in power the longest. It became very obvious shortly after she was first elected that she is VERY interested in the baubles of power. As much perhaps as Winston.
    So to expect her to trade any political capital to benefit the proletariat is just laughable.
    You have spent the last 3years bemoaning all the damage national did as labour made it worse.
    When will your hypocrisy stop and finally admit that labour and national are evil twins?
    Adern isn’t a saint, she’s worse than Clark and no better than key.

    • yeah Im expecting Labour to show its true colours and appease the right wing voter base and screw the bottom just as bad as National does. Lost faith in these narcissistic wankers ever treating all kiwis equally. It seems if you dont have money they dont want to know you.

  2. These bloody politicians dont lift a finger to try deal to rents through the roof or incomes that are slave labour. If you arent rich already the govt doesnt want to know.
    Been bloody hard growing up in a country disabled, as much as the govt says discrimination is illegal, again it doesnt lift a finger to stop it so employers always say no. Then I decided to try have a normal life like you people and now I cant get a benefit because my wife works, in fact alot of services seem to hinge on you being on a benefit to qualify for them.
    I have written to every bloody govt for the last 20 years trying to get a solution to this problem and they all give you a bunch of meaningless words and dont actually help you at all.
    I voted Green this time round, they promised a universal benefit, fucking pointless vote since Labour just walked all over them.
    Then on top of everything the govt isnt allowing recreational cannabis, it was the only avenue the govt had provided for me to gain access to cheap or free medicine or the ability to grow it myself legally.
    NO, they can all go and get fucked from now on. Sick of voting for these narcissistic wankers, Im going to ignore your fucking laws.

  3. THIS is the ‘grassroots’ movement that we in Aotearoa should be supporting, promoting and empowering now. This needs to be our first point of change and improvement.

    It will not be easy. The Reinstatement of Sepuloni as head of MOSD underscores that. But this is the change that must happen ASAP.

    • Yes yes yes. Read through this list and pleased to see there are four or five I’ve been part of or associated with at different times – going right back to undergrad days, and that makes me feel very tired indeed. I am frankly astonished to see the PSA in there – been a PSA delegate too, a demoralising time – and if they’re in there too,
      the government will be listening.

      In an alarmingly short span of time, an abyss has been created between the haves and have-nots in New Zealand. At the very least, any government has to know that this is socially foolhardy situation to aid and abet,
      is potentially dangerous, and that such a society simply cannot sustain itself. No point in mentioning the tragic human cost, as that is a factor beyond the comprehension of neolib zealots.

      Remember those painting-by-number pictures ? That’s govt. Now the broad canvas people are saying, “ Let’s do this “, and we have to thank them for doing so. With lawyers now organising to try to get government get real about climate change, today’s and tomorrow’s children’s futures may be better than if left to politicians.

      There are kids in this country booked into daycare from 8am to 6pm. They have less home time than yesterday’s teenagers did. Not the best basis on which to build a country, I say.

      • an abyss has been created between the haves and have-nots in New Zealand.

        Yes, Snow White, and as you say it is potentially very dangerous because it is an unsustainable situation for us as a country. Those more than 50 organisations represent thousands and thousands of people who are all in desperate need. Jacinda cannot turn away from this.

        I re-listened to her response (tv+1) and she did seem to be dismissive. She said, “I will continue to work with each of those organisations, as I have been doing”.

        But she did not say she would work with them “to bring about the needed changes”. Just, “to continue” (BAU ?). By approaching her together as one mega-group, they are saying that their message needs to be heard. They are not asking to be met or dealt with as individual groups, as per her response, but for her to hear their combined, shared message of absolute urgency.

        These are the groups who, one way or another, have to try and pick up the pieces, the human pieces, of the utterly broken MSD/ system. Again, and again, and again. It cannot go on this way.

        Now is NOT THE TIME for her to turn away. Now is the time for her to listen to this group, who, more than any others, represent all that she stood for in her first term. …Those promises which remain unfulfilled, and which affect the lives and the survival of so many Kiwis.

  4. Jacinda was asked about this on 1 News today. I did not catch her actual words of response exactly, but felt disheartened as she seemed to be somewhat dismissive. Yet these groups represent a massive number of people, all of whom are in urgent need. These are NOT “For profit” groups – They all represent the poorest, those who have no voice of their own, those who are absolutely struggling, sometimes just to stay alive. They must be heard, they must be taken seriously!

    • That’s what John Key used to do too, be dismissive of protestors. I recall seeing him on television, looking amused, and saying something like, “ Are they out there now are they ?” about a procession that had arrived at Parliament from Lambton Quay. Jacinda mightn’t have touched base with Helen or Heather about it, it being first thing on Monday morning.

      Carmel Sepuloni is highly unlikely to be responsible for MSD policy ; she was probably popped into that job for fairly cynical reasons.

      The NGO’s are the people who know what is happening out in the community and they do some incredible work. Here’s hoping that they don’t have any of their funding cut now.

      • who know what is happening out in the community and they do some incredible work.

        Yes. They must be listened to. They deserve our respect, and to be taken very seriously.

        • Kheala They deserve our respect, and they have it – the NGO’s, that is, not the politicians. The trouble is that community organisations who do this work, often at considerable personal cost, are enabling and reinforcing the neo-lib and libertarian ethos of government doing as little possible, and this includes responsible decision-making.

          The above petition suggests that they are, in fact, bad decision makers, whatever the reason.

          Where systems collapse due to bad decision making, neolib policy is to sell them off blithely announcing that because they have stuffed up, they’re turning them over to the private sector who can do it better.

          We know that a certain amount of this was engineered under the tricky National government, with the piecemeal privitisation of various health services, and we are are lucky that the Nats self-destructed before they were able to destroy more of the vulnerable people dependant upon a Public Health Service.

          It is incredible – and it is wonderful – that eg.a whole charity hospital was started by Christchurch surgeon Phil Bagshaw, but this sort of project would not be necessary had successive governments not been determined to plunge this country back into the grim inequalities of Victorian England, and ordinary living once more becoming far too hard for far too many.

          If this government does not listen to the NGO’s, then we have to ask whether they are just another bunch of amoral ratbags.

          • We have to find a way to make them listen.

            They cannot go on with hands over ears, going, “I can’t hear you… Nah, nah, nah”.

            It is time for them to face this reality.

  5. Sepuloni has forgotten that she was a struggling solo once and Adern has long forgotten any Socialist principles she may have held. There will be no major institutional changes to MSD and no real
    help for the poor. They both now worship the Mighty Middle.

  6. Lets hope Labour do something now they have a second term, increase core benefits, legalise cannabis since referendum is that close (and non binding); otherwise all i see is labour and national as two sides of the same coin and my next vote will be “No Confidence”

    • It’s a complete waste of time raising core benefits until something is done about rents. And this govt doesn’t have the will to do anything about it.

      • Agree and today on the radio there was talk of 300000 NZ people coming back home . These people will be selling up and arriving here with a heap of money and the need for a home which will push up house prices and rents .
        There is no plan to open more quarantine accomadation so how are they going to cope. After the earthquake temporary villages were quickly set up in parks . The last of those have just been sold .It can be done but there has to be a will.

        • It can be done but there has to be a will.

          Exactly, Trevor.
          And at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be the will, which is incredibly disappointing.

  7. Jacinda’s response was:

    “This is not going to be an issue that is going to be resolved in one week, one month or indeed one term.”

    So that seems like a no to increasing benefits before this Christmas. Perhaps next term, if she gets another?

    Labour – the party the left can count on to let them down.

    • Cute answer from the PR expert, but this is not “ an issue”, this is real people, not some abstract entity. PM Ardern is controlling the narrative here by depersonalising what is actually happening out in the community, and the desperation and lack of hope with which real people are having to live, and not necessarily through any fault of their own. Not good enough, especially where children are concerned.

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