AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY
Media release Thursday 17 October 2013
Benefit figures nothing to boast about Paula
Every time Paula Bennett boasts about a drop in numbers of people on benefits, she is indicting herself for crimes against the most vulnerable people in New Zealand.
“Our recent beneficiary impact in New Lynn (www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KlFwdD1-Ak) demonstrated with a vengeance that National’s regime means that many people are denied or pushed off benefits to which they are entitled,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sarah Thompson.
“Assisting hundreds of beneficiaries over three days left us with graphic evidence of a failed, incoherent welfare system whose whole purpose is now to reduce entitlement by fair means or foul, with no regard for the consequences.
“Through our advocacy work we find that people are often so distressed by their experiences with Work and Income that they will do anything to avoid registering for a benefit; won’t ask for what they desperately need in supplementary assistance; or are simply denied support altogether.
“We recently worked with a man who had been incorrectly refused Jobseeker Support back in February, and it wasn’t until he came to us in September that he was able to get the benefit he’d been eligible for all that time.
“Meanwhile he had been borrowing money and selling off possessions to try and ensure his family’s survival.
“The day after the impact we were told that a person with mental health issues had committed suicide as a result of the new MSD work testing regime.
“While we cannot confirm or give details of that case, we believe it is likely to be true, and that such a tragedy is the ultimate effect of policies which subject many thousands of mentally and physically sick, injured and disabled people to the Government’s new work testing regime.
“Auckland Action Against Poverty would be delighted if John Key and Paula Bennett were creating new jobs and genuinely helping the desperately unemployed into decent work.
“But sadly this is not what is reflected in the lower beneficiary numbers announced today.