More groups join growing call to govt to replace entrenched poverty with liveable incomes

Social workers and foodbank organisers are among the latest of now 60+ groups signing an open letter to the government to ensure liveable incomes for all, while one signatory warns of a second wave of increasing inequality at this "critical" time.

Aotearoa NZ Association of Social Workers, Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective, Network Waitangi Otautahi and Brainwave Trust Aotearoa are among nine organisations around the country who have joined the call since it went public this morning, urging Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Social Development & Employment Carmel Sepuloni and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson to lift inadequate welfare payments by Christmas.

The Salvation Army signed the letter in part because they are concerned that the COVID-19 economic fallout will increase hopelessness for many, as happened after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

"This is a critical time in our history, and we are concerned even more people will slip into entrenched poverty" says Ian Hutson, Director of the Salvation Army Policy and Parliamentary Unit. Hutson says when people have to battle day-to-day to put food on the table and find the rent, the emotional initiative that is sucked up by the struggle to survive leaves people without the energy or hope to find work. "People need enough income to stand up on so they can move on."

Jacqui Southey, Save the Children NZ Child Rights Advocacy and Research Director says food insecurity is growing, and "the evidence shows that when families have liveable incomes, they spend those incomes on their children: good food and education."

Arna Metcalfe, Vice President of the National Council of Women, points out the effects of COVID-19 on employment have been worse for women than men. "The impact of poverty disproportionately falls on women and it's vital we address that. Current benefit levels are not enough for people to live on with dignity."

Brendon Lane, Public Service Association Campaign Organiser says it is important to the PSA that "people are able to participate in our society. Having a fair level of income support is a key part of that."


Open letter:

Original media release and signatory list: