NGOs and campaign groups say 'people are hurting' after govt inaction on welfare review

A member of the Government's own advisory group on welfare, an anti-poverty campaigner, and a disability advocate have called out the Government for two years of inaction on implementing the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) recommendations, released two years ago on 3 May 2019.

This call comes as the Child Poverty Action Group releases a stocktake showing none of the WEAG's 42 recommendations has been fully implemented.

WEAG member and human rights lawyer Huhana Hickey is disappointed at the Government's lack of progress on the recommendations. "Two years is plenty of time to move on the WEAG report," said Hickey.

Coordinator of Auckland Action Against Poverty Brooke Stanley Pao added: "The inaction of this Labour Government is causing further harm and hardship in the communities we serve and it's gotten worse since Covid and the housing crisis hit."

Co-founder of the NZ Disability Advisory Trust and Supported Living Payment recipient Nick Stoneman stated: "The proposals of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group were clear, and as long as those proposals aren't implemented people are going to be left struggling to fend for themselves."

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is today publishing findings from its two-year stocktake showing none of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group's 42 recommendations had been fully implemented. Eight of the 42 recommendations have been partially implemented, with 11 partially implemented and no evidence of the remaining 23 recommendations being implemented at all, according to work by CPAG.

Brooke Stanley Pao said, "Every day they continue business as usual is a day this system continues to deny people the rights to their own existence. This is wrong and unjust on so many levels and why we fight so hard for liveable incomes."

Huhana Hickey said, "Housing is in crisis, poverty is at a high and people, especially disabled people, are struggling. The lack of decent support from the welfare system is undermining the health of our people."

The group of advocates is calling for significant increases in income support at the upcoming Budget on 3 May. Nick Stoneman said: "I hope that in the Budget the Government will show that kindness and wellbeing are more than just words - and I hope we'll see the major increases in core benefit levels that so many of us have been calling for."

Similarly, Hickey said: "We need transformational change sooner not later because people are hurting."

The call from these advocates, and the Child Poverty Action Group's stocktake, follows polling in February showing that 69% of New Zealanders back an increase in income support.