Salvation Army report paints picture of growing inequality

Feb 14, 2018 | News

“The failures of the neoliberal policies by successive Governments of the past few decades are highlighted in this report. The supposed growth of GDP has not translated into substantial income growth, with benefit levels only marginally rising by 6% for sole parents while housing costs rocket upwards. The people who are creating the wealth for this country are not getting any of the benefits, with most of the wealth going into a few hands”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.

“The report also confirms that employment figures do not necessarily reflect the well-being of our communities. There may have been a 20% job growth in the past ten years, but without the proper provisions for liveable incomes and secure hours this hasn’t equated to any substantial way into people having enough left each week after rent and bills.

“So long as we have a welfare system based on sanctions—that all too often pushes people into precarious, inadequate employment—we are going to continue seeing this trend in future reports. There’s an opportunity and commitment by the Labour led Government for meaningful welfare reform this term, but no clarity yet as to what that is going to look like. Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Labour Government to remove all sanctions beneficiaries face and increase benefits to a liveable level.

“Recent reports from AUT and the Government have also highlighted the lack of access to secure tenancy for people. The previous Government spent millions increasing the amount of motels which provided short term, inadequate emergency housing, while its housing stock remained relatively the same. This has led to a chronic shortage of state homes, while speculators continue to drive house prices up and push people out of their communities and into garages and onto the streets. There is now a mountain of evidence showing the urgency for a mass build of state homes, and the need to severely cap speculation and rent increases. Simply restricting foreign buyers from speculating won’t provide any long term solutions to this issue.

“The challenges presented by the Salvation Army’s report will require significant Government spending, which will be difficult to achieve under the Government’s self-imposed Budget Responsibility Rules, which arbitrarily caps Core Crown Spending to 30% of GDP. People at all levels of society have now called for action on housing, with a particular focus on strengthening our state housing sector: From beneficiaries sharing their visions on a political system built on fairness, academic institutions and leading economists, there’s been a recognition that the public sector needs to step in to provide long term secure tenancy for people.

“The Government has a steep hill to climb. And those struggling to get by don’t have the time to wait around for more reports that measure the extent of the situation. We need more state homes, a tax on the rich, an end to all benefit sanctions, and liveable incomes now.”

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