Budget targets poor, not poverty

Media release – Thursday 16 May

Budget targets poor, not poverty

 Earlier this week Bill English talked about ‘targeting poverty.’

 “In fact, today’s budget targets the poor, not poverty,” says Sarah Thompson, spokesperson for Auckland Action Against Poverty.

 “In almost every way, this Budget means life will become harder for those already struggling to survive.

 “Bill English restates National’s commitment to an ‘unrelenting focus on work’ as the goal of their welfare policies, while maintaining a zero commitment to employment creation.

 “The one exception to this is the creation of 354 new extra jobs at Work and Income as part of the welfare reforms already passed into law.

 “These new staff will be part of National’s ‘unrelenting focus on work’ which will see many more sole parents, sickness and invalids’ beneficiaries harassed and intimidated into competing for the identical low wage, insecure jobs as the unemployed and underemployed.

 “All this means is that the same people will be constantly recycled between paid work and the benefit system.

 “Nor does Bill English take into account the faltering Australian economy and what will happen if Australia no longer remains a safety valve for unemployment here.

 “In one of Nationals’ most shocking moves, all state and other social housing tenancies will become subject to review, which means any form of long term housing security will become a hopeless dream for many.

 “This is a total repudiation of the purpose of state housing as originally conceived in the 1930s.

 “The shift of housing need assessments from Housing New Zealand to MSD may make sense, especially as Housing New Zealand have been doing such an awful job of it lately.

 “However, it will be critical that Work and Income staff take this new obligation seriously and don’t play the same destructive games in this area as they do so often when assessing peoples’ benefit entitlements.

 Auckland Action Against Poverty invites everyone who shares our disgust at National’s continuing attacks on those living in poverty to join us on a picket tomorrow. Media welcome.

 11.00am Friday 17 May – Vector Arena, Auckland – Picket of John Key who is speaking about the Budget to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle at 11.30am.