|The majority of hardship grants are for food.|
Work and Income have issued sixty-seven percent more hardship grants over the past year. It is an indictment of a government led by a Prime Minister who has claimed that 'tackling poverty' is one of the main priorities of her government.
DESPITE THE CLAIMS BY the Labour-led Government of a prosperous economy, its clear that any economic benefits haven't 'trickled down' to those at the bottom. Such is the level of economic desperation, new figures from the Ministry of Development have revealed that hardship grants rocketed up a massive 67 percent in the space of just one year. They went up from 385,043 for the quarter ending December 2018 to 573,851 for the quarter ending December2019.
This is a damning indictment of a Labour-led Government whose Prime Minister declared that 'tackling poverty' would be one of the priorities of her government.
At the same time Work and Income has continued to wage its war against beneficiaries. The number of people facing benefit sanctions went up from last year, from 8,536 for the quarter ending December 2018 to 11,854 for the quarter ending December 2019. As Auckland Auction Against Poverty (AAAP) has noted 'This is higher than the number of people being sanctioned for the quarter ending December 2016 when National was in Government.'
It was in May last year that the government's own welfare working group issued its report recommending over forty changes to the welfare system. The government, with the support of the Green's, rejected all but three of the recommendations. It declined to increase core benefit levels despite being advised by the welfare working group that an increase was needed immediately to 'alleviate economic distress'.
Says AAAP : We’ve had countless of reports, including from the Government’s welfare advisory group, calling for an increase on baseline benefit levels and an end to benefit sanctions. The Government’s inaction on meaningful welfare reform does not align with its rhetoric of compassionate governance. A Government that refuses to lift benefit levels above the poverty line is not working for people living in hardship.'
If these sort of figures had been delivered by a National-led government, Labour and Green supporters would of been shouting from the rooftops. But, ever since New Zealand First hosted Labour into office, they have largely remained silent. And the government has continued to commit a range of economic crimes against the working class. In an election year we can expect the 'cone of silence' to be rammed down even harder as Jacinda Ardern smiles for the camera and tries to 'attenuate the positive'.
For that large slice of the left that continues to hitch itself to the electoral fortunes of the Labour Party, any arguments about Labour being 'preferable' to National and that it deserves a 'second chance' or not going to viewed favourably by those at the sharp end of the government's austerity-led polices. Rather they may well be regarded as the platitudes of a smug and comfortable liberal elite more interested in maintaining the political and economic status quo rather than doing right by the folk lining up for hardship grants just in order to put food on the table.