INDEPENDENT NEWS

Poverty eradication a real choice in the general election

Published: Mon 17 Jul 2017 12:36 PM
Poverty eradication a real choice in the general elections
Graham Howell, spokesperson for the Benefit Rights Service welcomes this weekend’s Green Party Social Welfare policy announcement. The Ministry of Social Development’s own research shows hundreds of thousand of people in material disadvantage and the only effective way forward is to pay these people more and allow them to budget. If paid more it is much easier for these people to meet their obligations. We trust people to be able to do this.
The Green’s promise builds on the changes to the Accommodation Supplement that will come into effect whoever is elected in September and the assistance for power costs if Labour is elected.
The shifting of the discriminatory In Work Payment to a tax credit available to all low income households is something we as a group working to reduce poverty also welcome.
The change to the sanction regime is also much appreciated. We are well aware most sanctions are imposed for very dubious reasons, something the Ministry of Social Development records show. Most of the reasons they are imposed are for parents who missed an appointment because their children were sick or the buses were not running or something equally valid. 90% of sanctions are over-turned making the process something set up just to create stress for those who are threatened with sanctions. Rather than having case managers impose and then remove sanctions they would be better employed ensuring job offers are genuine and people paid what they are legally entitled to.
Since the 1991 benefit cuts beneficiaries have been maligned and bashed for an economy that has not provided sustainable jobs paid at a living wage. We are now seeing changes.
The proposed increase in benefit rates is significant and will make a real difference. We hope the public vote to alleviate poverty.
We need the benefit rates to increase and the changes to Working for Families and sanctions is also welcomed.

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