Beneficiary Advisory Service (BAS) has joined a super group of unions, children’s organisations, service providers and church groups calling on the government to raise benefit rates before Christmas.

The NGOs have signed an open letter addressed to PM Jacinda Ardern, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni and Minister for Finance Grant Robertson stating the situation is urgent. 

We are asking the government to ensure 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, can access a liveable income.

The COVID-19 Income Relief Payment has showed us what a sensible income support program could look like. Showing that the existing benefits are not at a high enough rate to provide a liveable income. The Income Relief Payment provides $490 a week to individuals, also allowing people with partners earning up to $2,000 p/w to still receive the full amount. In contrast, Jobseekers Support is $250 a week, and is abated to $0 after their partner earns $664, or $702 if they have children.

Despite the differences in each individuals situation we hold a shared responsibility to ensure everyone has a decent standard of living. 

Labour’s election policy was: “Labour will continue overhauling our welfare system with a focus on supporting people into sustainable work, income adequacy so families that depend on the benefit are not living in poverty, and a culture change within government departments to ensure all people are treated with respect.”

The open letter lists record breaking unemployment increases, and the surge in demand for emergency hardship grants and youth homelessness support as reasons for the government to increase income support rates.

The open letter finishes by stating “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.”

Other signatories to the open letter include:

  • ActionStation
  • Auckland Action Against Poverty
  • Auckland City Mission
  • Auckland Women’s Centre
  • Barnardos
  • Belong Aotearoa
  • Beneficiaries & Unwaged Worker Trust
  • Beneficiary Advocacy Services Christchurch
  • Birthright NZ
  • Brainwave Trust Aotearoa
  • CCS Disability Action
  • Child Poverty Action Group
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Community Networks Aotearoa
  • Disabled Person’s Assembly
  • Equality Network
  • FinCap
  • FIRST Union
  • Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective
  • Lifewise
  • Manaaki Rangatahi
  • Manawatū Tenants’ Union
  • Māngere East Family Services
  • Mental Health Foundation
  • Methodist Alliance
  • Monte Cecilia
  • 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
  • NZ Accessibility 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
  • Sisters of Mercy Wiri
  • Social Justice Group of the Auckland Anglican Diocese
  • Social Link
  • St Anne’s Pantry
  • St Matthews in the City
  • Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services
  • Tick for Kids
  • Tokona Te Raki
  • United Community Action Network
  • Unite
  • Urban Neighbours of Hope
  • VisionWest
  • Waipareira Trust
  • We Are Beneficiaries
  • Wesley Community Action
  • Whānau Āwhina Plunket

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Media enquiries: 

Tavia Moore, admin@bas.org.nz, 0221766170  

For interview with other organisational spokespeople: Ruby Powell, ruby@actionstation.org.nz, 0221027414