Stark contrast between benefit increase & MPs’ pay rise

Stark contrast between benefit increase & MPs’ pay rise

Media release Friday 27 February 2015

Earlier this week Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced that benefits will increase by 0.51% on 1 April.

Yesterday MPs were granted a 5.5% pay increase, backdated.

“The contrast couldn’t be starker,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson and former Green MP Sue Bradford.

“Anyone who doubts that we’re moving daily towards a more unequal society only has to look at the gap.

“The value of benefits constantly declines as any increase is tied to inflation, currently at record low levels of around 0.8%.

“The nett weekly base rate for a single person on Jobseeker Support aged 25 or older will go up by an extra $1.07 per week – $55.64 per year.

“The nett weekly base rate for a sole parent will go up by a princely $1.53 per week – $79.56 per year.

“John Key will receive an extra $457.69 per week – $23,800 per year

“The ability of working age beneficiaries to meet even the most basic living costs reduces daily because of the way benefit increases are set.

“The notorious 1991 benefit cuts were never restored under either National or Labour governments and because of the way annual increases are calculated, poverty constantly deepens for unemployed people, sole parents, and the injured, sick and disabled who are dependent on income support.

“Superannuitants and Veterans pensions will go up by 2.07% on 1 April, in line with 66% of the average wage. As ever, working age beneficiaries and their children are treated with far less respect and fairness.

“As a former MP I understand the embarrassing predicament MPs now find themselves in, as their salary rates are set by the Remnueration Authority and cannot be rejected.

“One of the best ways out of this embarrassment would be for government to lift the base rate of working age benefits to cover the gap left by the benefit cuts, and to calculate annual increases in the same way as superannuation.

“Ultimately a fair and adequate Universal Basic Income alongside a government commitment to decent job creation and free access to training and education is the real way forward out of the current welfare mess.”

ends

Crash the (National) Party

Crash the (National) Party

Demo at National’s Summer Party 3pm Sunday 15 Feb

This coming Sunday John Key and National Party friends are holding a ‘Summer Party’ at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in Auckland.

Auckland Action Against Poverty is organising a counter-party.

Crash the (National) Party

3.00pm Sunday 15 February

Royal Akarana Yacht Club

8 Tamaki Drive, Okahu Bay

“We plan to let attendees know that we have had enough of the government’s pointless and punitive policies on welfare and housing,” says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“Every day we work with people who are suffering the consequences of Paula Bennett’s welfare reforms.

“Anne Tolley has been almost silent since becoming Minister of Social Development.

“We think it’s high time she started fronting up about the serious long term impacts of her predecessor’s reforms.

“It is commonplace to see people denied benefits to which they’re entitled and left deliberately without food and/or anywhere to live.

“The drive to push and keep people out of the benefit system might drop numbers in the official statistics, but no one keeps track of what happens when people are denied access to support.

“In his opening speech to Parliament last week John Key said he wants to ‘carry on making the country more wealthier (sic).’

“On Sunday afternoon we’ll be giving him and his mates the message that it’s high time they took serious action to reverse the welfare reforms and start building thousands of state houses rather than focusing their assistance on helping those who already are a lot ‘more wealthier’.

Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1598167087064990/?pnref=story
ends

Intolerable pressure real cause of MSD security issues

Intolerable pressure real cause of MSD security issues

Media release Wednesday 11 February 2015
“The MSD report released yesterday deals with the consequences of a system which daily sets out to harass, belittle and punish people while failing to recognise deeper causes of security problems,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“The intolerable pressure placed on staff and beneficiaries by successive welfare reforms is the true cause of security problems at Work & Income offices.

“There is no question that MSD staff deserve to be safe at work, as do all workers.

“But Government should be looking way beyond guards and risk compliance policies for genuine, longterm solutions.

“What’s needed is a wholesale change to welfare policies and practices, starting with an end to the culture of denial which sees thousands of people turned down each day for the support to which they’re entitled.

“At Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Mangere beneficiary ‘impact’ in August 2014 we helped over 500 people in three days.

“Almost all of them had been being treated with some degree of disregard and disentitlement by the department. We continue to help people in similar situations on a daily basis.

“National’s welfare reforms have focused on pushing or keeping people off benefits no matter the consequences for their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“This has meant that many of the most vulnerable people in the country are constantly harassed as a matter of everyday practice.

“The stress is often unbearable, and it is nonsensical for the Minister Anne Tolley and John Key to pretend otherwise.

“It’s high time we had a serious review of welfare policy and practice. The current departmental culture hurts all involved. It’s way past time for a change.”

ends

Guy Standing speaks on Universal Basic Income

Guy Standing speaks on Universal Basic Income Wed 11 Feb, Auckland
Tomorrow night AAAP is hosting a public meeting with Professor Guy Standing, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network which promotes the concept of a UBI (Universal Basic Income) internationally.

The meeting takes place 6.00-8.00pm Wednesday 11 February, Onehunga Community Centre, 83 Church St, Onehunga.

Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Guy Standing is a development studies professor at London University, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network and author of recently published book A precariat charter: from denizens to citizens.

“This is a chance to hear about UBI from one of the world’s most knowledgeable and respected advocates,” says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“The idea of a UBI has been talked about off and on in New Zealand over the last few decades but has never really gained much traction.

“The most visible version of a UBI here is Gareth Morgan’s ‘Big Kahuna’, but our group has considerable problems with it, in part because it would leave many people who are currently beneficiaries in an even worse position than they are at present.

“We are looking forward to hearing Guy Standing share his knowledge and experience of working with UBI networks internationally, and to the questions and discussion which will follow his presentation.

“Anyone who shares our interest is cordially invited to join us tomorrow evening.”

ends

Children of the Recession: NZ’s shame

Media release Wednesday 29 October 2014

“It is to New Zealand’s deepest shame that the latest Unicef report on children living in poverty ranks us 16th out of 41 developed countries.

“Every day groups like ours see the devastating consequences for families trying to survive in conditions to which John Key and his Cabinet colleagues appear wilfully oblivious,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Sue Bradford.

“Children of the Recession notes that New Zealand’s situation has stagnated since the last report in 2008, indicating that for six years National-lead governments have done nothing effective to address child poverty.

“Until governments acknowledge that child poverty is actually about adult poverty, our standings in Unicef’s rankings will continue to slide.

“Wages and conditions for employed workers need to rise, backed by the ability of unions to bargain effectively – something the government is doing everything possible to undermine in the House right now.

“Our welfare system needs to offer parents sufficient income to meet the real needs of the family, rather than deliberately under resourcing those who rely on benefits for survival.

“Housing those who are homeless and in grossly substandard accommodation should be a statutory obligation. Instead, National continues to decimate state housing.

“In a news report this morning, new Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said that it “was unfair to make a comparison with Australia because that country did not go into an economic depression at that time.” (RNZ)

“Yet for years we’ve heard National boasting about our rock star economy.  New Zealand has never slipped into the depths of depression suffered by many of the other countries in this report.

“The Nats love to take kudos for any praise heaped on our supposed economic gains, while continuing to ignore the impacts of deepening poverty and inequality on adults and the children they support.

“It is a tragedy that the situation is only likely to worsen over the next three years.

“John Key does not need more reports from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and MSD to discover how to end child poverty.

“He and his newly minted caucus colleagues should instead take heed of all the research that has been done already and commit to real solutions to ending poverty and unemployment.”

John’s Job Fairs no fix for unemployment and poverty

Media release Tuesday 21 October 2014

 

“John Key has clearly been looking to the US for his latest bright idea on dealing with employment issues,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Sue Bradford.

“Job fairs where the desperately unemployed queue in their corporate best to compete for paid work are commonplace in America.

“They might sound new and sexy in today’s Speech from the Throne but will do nothing to create jobs for the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who need decent work at decent wages, now.

“If the government is concerned about reducing skills shortages, it would make far more sense to put resources into training and education here, instead of constantly reducing access to tertiary education – and staging job fairs in Brisbane and Sydney.

“In the most recent Household Labour Force Survey there were over 236,000 jobless people in New Zealand.

“This October job losses have been announced at Donaghys, Heinz-Wattie, Tasman Insulation, Wellpack and State Insurance – and that’s just so far.

“Job fairs might serve as a kind of glorified schools career day, but nothing will change for those who do not enough hours of paid work, or no paid work at all.

The welfare measures in National’s plan won’t help either.

Extending full income management for some people up to age 19 through non-State providers is part of the ever encroaching privatisation of welfare.

No jobs will be created by this extension of the government’s patronising, disempowering approach towards young adults who should be taking charge of their lives, not having the last vestiges of control removed from them.

John Key has come a long way since his Jobs Summit two terms of Parliament ago.  He is not even pretending to talk about job creation.

Instead we’re to have the superficial and meaningless fix of John’s Job Fairs, and the endless rollout of the Bennett/Rebstock vision for welfare.

Ends

Work and Income fail to provide support

AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY

Media Release – Friday 13 June

Work and Income fail to provide support

Auckland Action Against Poverty has today raised further examples of the harsh reality of Paula Bennett’s welfare reforms.

“The National Government continues to ignore the social and economic reality of beneficiaries. Their individual needs and circumstances are not addressed by Work and Income.  The government has no focus on job creation, whilst remaining focused on harassing beneficiaries, ” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson, Alastair Russell.

“A 48 year old man has had heart attacks, a serious brain injury, heart surgery and a defibrillator inserted into his heart since 2012. His heart surgeon wrote a letter to his GP in 2013, “in support of him being placed on a longer term benefit.” Work and Income continued to treat this man as a Jobseeker, fully able to work until he sought support from one of our advocates. His individual circumstances were ignored by Work and Income.”

“A man with 3 children needs a fridge and school uniforms for his children. When he applied for bond money to move into a flat Work and Income left him to pay $400 of the bond putting the family into further financial hardship. Work and Income had the ability to help him and his children with all of these things and declined to do so.”

“A woman with a 2 year old child paying rent of $450 per week wanted to move into a cheaper flat. She had transport costs from going to job interviews. She also needed money to buy tyres to get a Warrant of Fitness for her car. Work and Income declined to help her.”

“A woman caring for a 4 year old child has rent arrears and faces eviction. She needs a washing machine as she rents one at $16 per week. She has had her wallet stolen and now has no photo ID and can’t open a bank account. Work and Income have declined to help.”

“In each of these cases Work and Income have acted with total disregard for the person’s situation. All of these people are determined to do their best for their kids. Rather than Work and Income using their discretion as set out in legislation to help, they make life as hard as possible. These situations are only resolved with competent benefit advocacy support,” says Mr Russell.

“Paula Bennett states beneficiary numbers have reduced by 15,000 in the last 12 months. She provides no statistics to show where these people have gone to or that they and their families’ situations have improved.”

“We are alarmed that whilst beneficiary numbers reduce the unemployment rate remains static. Ms Bennett can provide only 3 anecdotes to show that welfare reform is a positive thing. She provides no information about the 14,997 others.”

“The reality of welfare reform is one of on-going harassment, denial of lawful benefit entitlements and poverty. Ms Bennett and her government have no plan for job creation. They do not support a Living Wage. Ms Bennett’s welfare reforms remain a disaster,” says Mr Russell

ENDS

Prime Minister’s denial about poverty is unrelenting

AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY
Media Release-Saturday 17 May
Prime Minister’s denial about poverty is unrelenting

Prime Minister John Key’s dismissive jokes about anti-Budget protests are typical of a Government which is shameless in its indifference to poverty, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokeswoman Nadia Abu-Shanab.

“Over the past six years Key has become an expert at shrugging-off the loud concerns of those who oppose his Government’s war on the poor.

“Yesterday, Key suggested that protesters outside his post-Budget speech at SkyCity were unlikely to have even read the Budget. However while Key and his mates live in a world of growth forecasts and financial daydreams, others of us of experience firsthand the realities of policies which have brutalised our poorest communities, “ says Ms. Abu-Shanab.

“We work with people everyday who have been squeezed to the limit by a punitive approach to beneficiaries and the unemployed. We have seen incomes drop significantly in parts of Auckland. This winter, an untold number will face freezing homes and empty stomachs.

“Boasting about kicking 15,000 people off the benefit is a shameless move when we are all well aware many have not moved in to work.

“It’s no accident that National failed to invest in meaningful job creation in this years Budget. Chronic unemployment and a low-wage economy suit the interests of employers keen to pay poverty wages.

“National’s vision for a brighter New Zealand relies on entrenching the ever widening gap between rich and poor, so it’s no surprise that Key’s first stop for a self-congratulatory speech was with the wealthy suits at Skycity, rather than the struggling communities of Christchurch or Auckland.

“If Key wishes to lecture us on our knowledge of what is going on, we suggest he joins us on the streets rather than sipping champagne in the SkyCity Convention Centre.”

ENDS

Budget ignores beneficiaries’ reality, protest at Key’s lunchtime speech tomorrow

AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY

MEDIA RELEASE -15 May 2014

Budget ignores beneficiaries’ reality, protest at Key’s lunchtime speech tomorrow

“Five years of social havoc cannot be undone by announcing $493 million extra for children and families,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Alastair Russell.

“Extending paid parental leave, free GP visits for under 13 year olds and increased Parental Tax Credit is the sum total of an election year Family Bribe. But true to form, the increased Parental Tax Credit excludes beneficiaries.

“Mr English proudly cited a reduction in the numbers of people receiving benefits with no information as to where they have gone. Unemployment remains static at 6%. If the unemployment rate has not lowered, then where are the unemployed now getting their income from?” asks Mr Russell.

“$20 million for an additional 6000 apprenticeships is the sum total of National’s ‘unrelenting focus on work’ and is simply inadequate.

“The only other cursory references to addressing unemployment are an incentive to move to Christchurch for 1000 beneficiaries, and an additional 8000 places in Work Readiness Programmes.

“The Christchurch initiative has received damning criticism from local housing groups and employers who have suggested that this 1000 people will end up in tents in Hagley Park. Work Readiness Programmes are completely redundant when there is no work to be ready for.

“In spite of a few band aids for families hurting after 6 years of National, the Budget contains no job creation. It also contains no Living Wage, and there is no way the unemployed share in this illusory strong economy.

“The disconnect between English’s talked-up ‘rock star’ economy and the reality experienced by low-income New Zealanders is startling. We work with people every day who face the choice between feeding the kids or paying the power bill. This Budget provides very little meaningful relief for those at the very bottom,” says Mr Russell.

AAAP will be hosting a protest outside John Key’s post-Budget address to the Transtasman Business Circle from 11.45am tomorrow outside the Sky City Conference Centre in Federal Street.

Ends

Who

Auckland Action Against Poverty

Media release

Tuesday 13 May

Auckland Action Against Poverty will hold a protest at John Key’s post-budget speech at Sky City on May 16.

“The National government has shown its commitment to promoting the interests of its wealthy mates time and time again,” says AAAP spokesperson Alastair Russell.

“In 2010, the budget announced $2 billion of tax cuts, giving the Telecom CEO an extra $290,000 a year. This budget also increased GST to 15 per cent, thereby increasing daily living costs and canceling out any tax cuts to beneficiaries and working people.

“In 2011 and 2012 there were so-called zero budgets, spending $900 million on a private prison and cuts to childcare of $170 million.

“On May 14 2013, Finance Minister Bill English declared: ‘We don’t believe there is a solution to poverty in general so I wouldn’t expect there to be any large-scale intervention.’”

Mr. Russell adds: “Since this acknowledgment by the Finance Minister that his government has no intention of addressing poverty, we have seen the actions of Maurice Williamson and Judith Collins protecting their rich mates. We now know that if you have money, you can buy time with Cabinet ministers through the Cabinet Club.

“This is a government of inclusion for the rich and exclusion for the poor,” says Mr. Russell.

“Every year in May, we see where Government priorities lie. The Government has already announced $100 million extra funding for defense will be a part of this year’s Budget. How is it there are the millions at disposal for military technology but vulnerable families are going hungry?”

“On May 16, John Key will deliver a post-budget speech to an audience of the wealthy at Sky City. We know his government’s budget will again have no solution to the poverty affecting thousands of New Zealanders. We will let John Key know that this is unacceptable.”

The protest is to start at 11.45 am on Friday May 16, at Sky City Convention Centre, 88 Federal Street, Auckland.

ENDS

Government ignores its responsibility to lower unemployment.

Auckland Action Against Poverty

 

MEDIA RELEASE WEDNESDAY 7 MAY

 

Government ignores its responsibility to lower unemployment.

 

Statistics New Zealand figures released today show that unemployment remains at 6 percent.

“The government continues to have total blind and uncaring faith in a free market solution to unemployment. The government refuses to act,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson, Alastair Russell.

In Auckland unemployment rose to 7.3 percent up from 6.3 percent.

Next week the Minister of Finance will deliver his Budget. “I confidently predict there will be no meaningful employment creation within the budget. Offering 1000 beneficiaries money to go to Christchurch simply does not cut it,” says Mr. Russell.

“There will be nothing to address the needs of the unemployed or the low paid. We have no ability to buy into the Cabinet Club, we have no Cabinet Minister friends or spouses to intervene on our behalf.”

“Poverty is a reality for hundreds of thousands throughout New Zealand.  A government which ignores the plight of so many and only listens to the wealthy has no legitimacy,” says Mr. Russell.

ENDS

WHERE ARE THE 15,000 JOBS?

AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTYMedia Release Thursday 17 April

WHERE ARE THE 15,000 JOBS?
“Paula Bennett is today proudly telling New Zealand that beneficiary numbers have decreased by 15,000 in the past year. There is no proud declaration that 15,000 jobs have been created in the same period,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson, Alastair Russell.
“We are left to assume these 15,000 people and their children are now better off because they no longer are paid a benefit. Ms Bennett provides no evidence for this assumption.”
“On the unlikely assumption that some have got work and this work is paid at the minimum wage, then these people are getting $570 a week before tax. They then have childcare and other work related costs, like travel. Their financial position has not improved. They remain in a poverty trap,” says Mr Russell.
“Ms Bennett apparently neither knows nor cares what has happened to those who are no longer paid a benefit or are in low-wage employment”
“However you look at this the numbers don’t stack up. This government continues to fail people on benefits. It has no constructive way forward. Its approach continues to be harassment dressed up as “work focus” with no work creation or social responsibility”
ENDS

AAAP to hold Block Party at Young Nats Ball tonight

Auckland Action Against Poverty

Media Release Saturday 5 April
AAAP to hold Block Party at Young Nats Ball tonight

Tonight, Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett will MC at the Young Nats Ball, held at the Rendezvous Hotel in Auckland.

Auckland Action Against Poverty will be hosting a Block Party to provide an alternative for those left out in the cold by National’s war on the poor. The Block Party will begin at 6.30pm tonight outside the Rendezvous Hotel, corner of Mayoral Drive and Vincent Street.

There will be live music from local acts Totems and Street Chant, as well as  Wellington act, Big Rick.

“Tickets to the ball cost $100. The sad fact is, that’s more than many of us in New Zealand have left after paying rent and power. This is the harsh reality of being a low-paid worker or beneficiary living under National,” says AAAP spokesperson Ms Abu-Shanab.

“The National Party keep celebrating while so many of us are pushed into poverty thanks to their policies. People are being blamed and punished for the governments failure to create jobs. Meanwhile, the rich get richer,” says Ms Abu-Shanab.

“Tonight is an opportunity to tell them there are lots of us who want to see an end to brutal inequality and poverty. We need alternatives which put human beings before profit and big business. We’ll be outside the ball to hold the party to account. It’s time to block the National Party.”

ENDS

Bennett Continues to Bash Beneficiaries

Auckland Action Against Poverty

Media Release- Thursday 3 April

Bennett Continues to Bash Beneficiaries

“Today Paula Bennett has again perpetrated another beat-up on beneficiaries”, says Alastair Russell, Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson.

“Ms Bennett is cynically trying to persuade New Zealand that beneficiaries live a life of luxury, are able to pack their Louis Vuitton luggage and swan off on overseas holidays.”

Mr Russell asks, “How many people have left New Zealand having abandoned all hope of getting a decent job? How many have left because of their experience of on-going Work and Income harassment?”

“Auckland Action Against Poverty knows the reality Ms Bennett continues to deny. Life on a benefit is brutally hard. Children go hungry. Choices are made about what bill goes unpaid. Go into Work and Income and leave your dignity at the door. This is the real world and not the fantasy that Ms Bennett wants us to buy into.”

“Today I have spoken with a superannuitant who went overseas. Her daughter paid for the trip. She traveled to see a grandchild. She notified Work and Income of her travel plans. She obeyed all the rules and still had her benefit stopped.”

“This government needs to focus on policies which address poverty. And stop cheap publicity stunts trying to vilify beneficiaries. We need meaningful job creation. We need an end to the Work and Income culture of harassment.”

“We continue to wait for the day when Ms Bennett announces a scheme involving 20,000 real jobs with real wages. That would be progress and that would show this government values beneficiaries and their aspirations.”

AAAP to hold Block Party at Young Nats Ball 5 April

AAAP to hold Block Party at Young Nats Ball 5 AprilAuckland Action Against Poverty

Media Release Tuesday 1 April

Local musicians, students and beneficiary rights activists will provide an alternative to the Young Nats Ball as they prepare to block the National Party with a Block Party instead, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Nadia Abu-Shanab.

Auckland Action Against Poverty is hosting a ‘Block Party’ outside the ball at the Rendezvous Hotel, 71 Mayoral Drive, 6.30pm Saturday 5 April. There will be live music by local acts Street Chant and The Totems.

Street Chant singer Emily Littler says they are taking part in the Block Party to show they are among the many voices who want to oppose the National Party and what they stand for.

“Youth are where we see change and hope for the future. National doesn’t represent a future for us as young people, artists, family members and workers,” says Ms Littler.

“While John Key, Paula Bennett and their Young Nats have a ball, beneficiaries, low paid workers and young New Zealanders see little reason to celebrate after 6 years under National,” says Ms Abu-Shanab.

“We’re throwing a ‘Block Party’ outside the ball so that those of us who are angry about the reality of living of under National can get together, make some noise and remind National that their champagne celebrations will not go unchallenged while so many of us are pushed further into poverty as a direct result of their policies”

“National’s agenda has benefited the richest members of our society, but the rest of us have been left out in the cold. Tickets to the ball are $100 per person.

Work & Income culture of intimidation linked to surge in power disconnections.

AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY

Media Release Tuesday 25 March

Work & Income culture of intimidation linked to surge in power disconnections.

A deepening culture of intimidation at Work & Income explains why more people are going without power, and less are receiving their hardship entitlements to cover electricity and gas payments, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Alastair Russell.

“Last year, over 41,085 households in New Zealand had their power disconnected. That’s a quadrupling of disconnections since 2008. It’s a shocking increase in the amount of people living without their basic need for power met, “ says Russell. At the same time, hardship grants for power payments have dropped almost 20% since 2011.”

Energy Minister, Simon Bridges, expressed surprise that hardship grants have consistently fallen, despite the Work & Income entitlement criteria remaining the same. “The Minister obviously lacks an understanding of the extent to which peoples access to their entitlements for emergency needs is being impeded by the routine harassment and intimidation beneficiaries face at Work & Income,” says Russell.

“The Energy Minister needn’t look further than his colleague, Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett, for an explanation as to why people are clearly not gaining their entitlements in desperate times,” says Russell. “Entitlements surrounding hardship grants may remain the same as they were two years ago on paper, but the culture beneficiaries face at Work & Income has changed as a direct result of Bennett’s broader attack on beneficiaries through her reforms.”

“This deprivation is an indictment on Bennett and her Ministries pressure on Work & Income to reduce grants to beneficiaries to a bare minimum, even in instances where people are entitled and most need them,” says Russell. “People are facing sharply rising costs for their basic needs like power and food. Vulnerable people have died due to power disconnections.” he adds.

“Further tragedies are avoidable. Compassionate access to hardship grants for electricity and gas is a necessity in tough times, these statistics are a strong indicator of the toxic culture within Work & Income. The National Government must face up to the responsibility of the environment it has created.”

ENDS

Who are the real beneficiaries?

Auckland Action Against Poverty

Media release

Tuesday 13 May

Auckland Action Against Poverty will hold a protest at John Key’s post-budget speech at Sky City on May 16.

“The National government has shown its commitment to promoting the interests of its wealthy mates time and time again,” says AAAP spokesperson Alastair Russell.

“In 2010, the budget announced $2 billion of tax cuts, giving the Telecom CEO an extra $290,000 a year. This budget also increased GST to 15 per cent, thereby increasing daily living costs and canceling out any tax cuts to beneficiaries and working people.

“In 2011 and 2012 there were so-called zero budgets, spending $900 million on a private prison and cuts to childcare of $170 million.

“On May 14 2013, Finance Minister Bill English declared: ‘We don’t believe there is a solution to poverty in general so I wouldn’t expect there to be any large-scale intervention.’”

Mr. Russell adds: “Since this acknowledgment by the Finance Minister that his government has no intention of addressing poverty, we have seen the actions of Maurice Williamson and Judith Collins protecting their rich mates. We now know that if you have money, you can buy time with Cabinet ministers through the Cabinet Club.

“This is a government of inclusion for the rich and exclusion for the poor,” says Mr. Russell.

“Every year in May, we see where Government priorities lie. The Government has already announced $100 million extra funding for defense will be a part of this year’s Budget. How is it there are the millions at disposal for military technology but vulnerable families are going hungry?”

“On May 16, John Key will deliver a post-budget speech to an audience of the wealthy at Sky City. We know his government’s budget will again have no solution to the poverty affecting thousands of New Zealanders. We will let John Key know that this is unacceptable.”

The protest is to start at 11.45 am on Friday May 16, at Sky City Convention Centre, 88 Federal Street, Auckland.

ENDS

Government ignores its responsibility to lower unemployment.

Auckland Action Against Poverty

 

MEDIA RELEASE WEDNESDAY 7 MAY

 

Government ignores its responsibility to lower unemployment.

 

Statistics New Zealand figures released today show that unemployment remains at 6 percent.

“The government continues to have total blind and uncaring faith in a free market solution to unemployment. The government refuses to act,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson, Alastair Russell.

In Auckland unemployment rose to 7.3 percent up from 6.3 percent.

Next week the Minister of Finance will deliver his Budget. “I confidently predict there will be no meaningful employment creation within the budget. Offering 1000 beneficiaries money to go to Christchurch simply does not cut it,” says Mr. Russell.

“There will be nothing to address the needs of the unemployed or the low paid. We have no ability to buy into the Cabinet Club, we have no Cabinet Minister friends or spouses to intervene on our behalf.”

“Poverty is a reality for hundreds of thousands throughout New Zealand.  A government which ignores the plight of so many and only listens to the wealthy has no legitimacy,” says Mr. Russell.

ENDS

WHERE ARE THE 15,000 JOBS?

AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTYMedia Release Thursday 17 April

WHERE ARE THE 15,000 JOBS?
“Paula Bennett is today proudly telling New Zealand that beneficiary numbers have decreased by 15,000 in the past year. There is no proud declaration that 15,000 jobs have been created in the same period,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson, Alastair Russell.
“We are left to assume these 15,000 people and their children are now better off because they no longer are paid a benefit. Ms Bennett provides no evidence for this assumption.”
“On the unlikely assumption that some have got work and this work is paid at the minimum wage, then these people are getting $570 a week before tax. They then have childcare and other work related costs, like travel. Their financial position has not improved. They remain in a poverty trap,” says Mr Russell.
“Ms Bennett apparently neither knows nor cares what has happened to those who are no longer paid a benefit or are in low-wage employment”
“However you look at this the numbers don’t stack up. This government continues to fail people on benefits. It has no constructive way forward. Its approach continues to be harassment dressed up as “work focus” with no work creation or social responsibility”
ENDS

AAAP to hold Block Party at Young Nats Ball tonight

Auckland Action Against Poverty

Media Release Saturday 5 April
AAAP to hold Block Party at Young Nats Ball tonight

Tonight, Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett will MC at the Young Nats Ball, held at the Rendezvous Hotel in Auckland.

Auckland Action Against Poverty will be hosting a Block Party to provide an alternative for those left out in the cold by National’s war on the poor. The Block Party will begin at 6.30pm tonight outside the Rendezvous Hotel, corner of Mayoral Drive and Vincent Street.

There will be live music from local acts Totems and Street Chant, as well as  Wellington act, Big Rick.

“Tickets to the ball cost $100. The sad fact is, that’s more than many of us in New Zealand have left after paying rent and power. This is the harsh reality of being a low-paid worker or beneficiary living under National,” says AAAP spokesperson Ms Abu-Shanab.

“The National Party keep celebrating while so many of us are pushed into poverty thanks to their policies. People are being blamed and punished for the governments failure to create jobs. Meanwhile, the rich get richer,” says Ms Abu-Shanab.

“Tonight is an opportunity to tell them there are lots of us who want to see an end to brutal inequality and poverty. We need alternatives which put human beings before profit and big business. We’ll be outside the ball to hold the party to account. It’s time to block the National Party.”

ENDS

Bennett Continues to Bash Beneficiaries

Auckland Action Against Poverty

Media Release- Thursday 3 April

Bennett Continues to Bash Beneficiaries

“Today Paula Bennett has again perpetrated another beat-up on beneficiaries”, says Alastair Russell, Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson.

“Ms Bennett is cynically trying to persuade New Zealand that beneficiaries live a life of luxury, are able to pack their Louis Vuitton luggage and swan off on overseas holidays.”

Mr Russell asks, “How many people have left New Zealand having abandoned all hope of getting a decent job? How many have left because of their experience of on-going Work and Income harassment?”

“Auckland Action Against Poverty knows the reality Ms Bennett continues to deny. Life on a benefit is brutally hard. Children go hungry. Choices are made about what bill goes unpaid. Go into Work and Income and leave your dignity at the door. This is the real world and not the fantasy that Ms Bennett wants us to buy into.”

“Today I have spoken with a superannuitant who went overseas. Her daughter paid for the trip. She traveled to see a grandchild. She notified Work and Income of her travel plans. She obeyed all the rules and still had her benefit stopped.”

“This government needs to focus on policies which address poverty. And stop cheap publicity stunts trying to vilify beneficiaries. We need meaningful job creation. We need an end to the Work and Income culture of harassment.”

“We continue to wait for the day when Ms Bennett announces a scheme involving 20,000 real jobs with real wages. That would be progress and that would show this government values beneficiaries and their aspirations.”

AAAP to hold Block Party at Young Nats Ball 5 April

AAAP to hold Block Party at Young Nats Ball 5 AprilAuckland Action Against Poverty

Media Release Tuesday 1 April

Local musicians, students and beneficiary rights activists will provide an alternative to the Young Nats Ball as they prepare to block the National Party with a Block Party instead, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Nadia Abu-Shanab.

Auckland Action Against Poverty is hosting a ‘Block Party’ outside the ball at the Rendezvous Hotel, 71 Mayoral Drive, 6.30pm Saturday 5 April. There will be live music by local acts Street Chant and The Totems.

Street Chant singer Emily Littler says they are taking part in the Block Party to show they are among the many voices who want to oppose the National Party and what they stand for.

“Youth are where we see change and hope for the future. National doesn’t represent a future for us as young people, artists, family members and workers,” says Ms Littler.

“While John Key, Paula Bennett and their Young Nats have a ball, beneficiaries, low paid workers and young New Zealanders see little reason to celebrate after 6 years under National,” says Ms Abu-Shanab.

“We’re throwing a ‘Block Party’ outside the ball so that those of us who are angry about the reality of living of under National can get together, make some noise and remind National that their champagne celebrations will not go unchallenged while so many of us are pushed further into poverty as a direct result of their policies”

“National’s agenda has benefited the richest members of our society, but the rest of us have been left out in the cold. Tickets to the ball are $100 per person.

Work & Income culture of intimidation linked to surge in power disconnections.

AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY

Media Release Tuesday 25 March

Work & Income culture of intimidation linked to surge in power disconnections.

A deepening culture of intimidation at Work & Income explains why more people are going without power, and less are receiving their hardship entitlements to cover electricity and gas payments, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Alastair Russell.

“Last year, over 41,085 households in New Zealand had their power disconnected. That’s a quadrupling of disconnections since 2008. It’s a shocking increase in the amount of people living without their basic need for power met, “ says Russell. At the same time, hardship grants for power payments have dropped almost 20% since 2011.”

Energy Minister, Simon Bridges, expressed surprise that hardship grants have consistently fallen, despite the Work & Income entitlement criteria remaining the same. “The Minister obviously lacks an understanding of the extent to which peoples access to their entitlements for emergency needs is being impeded by the routine harassment and intimidation beneficiaries face at Work & Income,” says Russell.

“The Energy Minister needn’t look further than his colleague, Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett, for an explanation as to why people are clearly not gaining their entitlements in desperate times,” says Russell. “Entitlements surrounding hardship grants may remain the same as they were two years ago on paper, but the culture beneficiaries face at Work & Income has changed as a direct result of Bennett’s broader attack on beneficiaries through her reforms.”

“This deprivation is an indictment on Bennett and her Ministries pressure on Work & Income to reduce grants to beneficiaries to a bare minimum, even in instances where people are entitled and most need them,” says Russell. “People are facing sharply rising costs for their basic needs like power and food. Vulnerable people have died due to power disconnections.” he adds.

“Further tragedies are avoidable. Compassionate access to hardship grants for electricity and gas is a necessity in tough times, these statistics are a strong indicator of the toxic culture within Work & Income. The National Government must face up to the responsibility of the environment it has created.”

ENDS

Stark contrast between benefit increase & MPs’ pay rise

Stark contrast between benefit increase & MPs’ pay rise

Media release Friday 27 February 2015

Earlier this week Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced that benefits will increase by 0.51% on 1 April.

Yesterday MPs were granted a 5.5% pay increase, backdated.

“The contrast couldn’t be starker,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson and former Green MP Sue Bradford.

“Anyone who doubts that we’re moving daily towards a more unequal society only has to look at the gap.

“The value of benefits constantly declines as any increase is tied to inflation, currently at record low levels of around 0.8%.

“The nett weekly base rate for a single person on Jobseeker Support aged 25 or older will go up by an extra $1.07 per week – $55.64 per year.

“The nett weekly base rate for a sole parent will go up by a princely $1.53 per week – $79.56 per year.

“John Key will receive an extra $457.69 per week – $23,800 per year

“The ability of working age beneficiaries to meet even the most basic living costs reduces daily because of the way benefit increases are set.

“The notorious 1991 benefit cuts were never restored under either National or Labour governments and because of the way annual increases are calculated, poverty constantly deepens for unemployed people, sole parents, and the injured, sick and disabled who are dependent on income support.

“Superannuitants and Veterans pensions will go up by 2.07% on 1 April, in line with 66% of the average wage. As ever, working age beneficiaries and their children are treated with far less respect and fairness.

“As a former MP I understand the embarrassing predicament MPs now find themselves in, as their salary rates are set by the Remnueration Authority and cannot be rejected.

“One of the best ways out of this embarrassment would be for government to lift the base rate of working age benefits to cover the gap left by the benefit cuts, and to calculate annual increases in the same way as superannuation.

“Ultimately a fair and adequate Universal Basic Income alongside a government commitment to decent job creation and free access to training and education is the real way forward out of the current welfare mess.”

ends

Crash the (National) Party

Crash the (National) Party

Demo at National’s Summer Party 3pm Sunday 15 Feb

This coming Sunday John Key and National Party friends are holding a ‘Summer Party’ at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in Auckland.

Auckland Action Against Poverty is organising a counter-party.

Crash the (National) Party

3.00pm Sunday 15 February

Royal Akarana Yacht Club

8 Tamaki Drive, Okahu Bay

“We plan to let attendees know that we have had enough of the government’s pointless and punitive policies on welfare and housing,” says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“Every day we work with people who are suffering the consequences of Paula Bennett’s welfare reforms.

“Anne Tolley has been almost silent since becoming Minister of Social Development.

“We think it’s high time she started fronting up about the serious long term impacts of her predecessor’s reforms.

“It is commonplace to see people denied benefits to which they’re entitled and left deliberately without food and/or anywhere to live.

“The drive to push and keep people out of the benefit system might drop numbers in the official statistics, but no one keeps track of what happens when people are denied access to support.

“In his opening speech to Parliament last week John Key said he wants to ‘carry on making the country more wealthier (sic).’

“On Sunday afternoon we’ll be giving him and his mates the message that it’s high time they took serious action to reverse the welfare reforms and start building thousands of state houses rather than focusing their assistance on helping those who already are a lot ‘more wealthier’.

Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1598167087064990/?pnref=story
ends

Intolerable pressure real cause of MSD security issues

Intolerable pressure real cause of MSD security issues

Media release Wednesday 11 February 2015
“The MSD report released yesterday deals with the consequences of a system which daily sets out to harass, belittle and punish people while failing to recognise deeper causes of security problems,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“The intolerable pressure placed on staff and beneficiaries by successive welfare reforms is the true cause of security problems at Work & Income offices.

“There is no question that MSD staff deserve to be safe at work, as do all workers.

“But Government should be looking way beyond guards and risk compliance policies for genuine, longterm solutions.

“What’s needed is a wholesale change to welfare policies and practices, starting with an end to the culture of denial which sees thousands of people turned down each day for the support to which they’re entitled.

“At Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Mangere beneficiary ‘impact’ in August 2014 we helped over 500 people in three days.

“Almost all of them had been being treated with some degree of disregard and disentitlement by the department. We continue to help people in similar situations on a daily basis.

“National’s welfare reforms have focused on pushing or keeping people off benefits no matter the consequences for their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“This has meant that many of the most vulnerable people in the country are constantly harassed as a matter of everyday practice.

“The stress is often unbearable, and it is nonsensical for the Minister Anne Tolley and John Key to pretend otherwise.

“It’s high time we had a serious review of welfare policy and practice. The current departmental culture hurts all involved. It’s way past time for a change.”

ends

Guy Standing speaks on Universal Basic Income

Guy Standing speaks on Universal Basic Income Wed 11 Feb, Auckland
Tomorrow night AAAP is hosting a public meeting with Professor Guy Standing, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network which promotes the concept of a UBI (Universal Basic Income) internationally.

The meeting takes place 6.00-8.00pm Wednesday 11 February, Onehunga Community Centre, 83 Church St, Onehunga.

Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Guy Standing is a development studies professor at London University, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network and author of recently published book A precariat charter: from denizens to citizens.

“This is a chance to hear about UBI from one of the world’s most knowledgeable and respected advocates,” says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“The idea of a UBI has been talked about off and on in New Zealand over the last few decades but has never really gained much traction.

“The most visible version of a UBI here is Gareth Morgan’s ‘Big Kahuna’, but our group has considerable problems with it, in part because it would leave many people who are currently beneficiaries in an even worse position than they are at present.

“We are looking forward to hearing Guy Standing share his knowledge and experience of working with UBI networks internationally, and to the questions and discussion which will follow his presentation.

“Anyone who shares our interest is cordially invited to join us tomorrow evening.”

ends

IMPORTANT NOTICE: OFFICE CLOSED OVER CHRISTMAS/ NEW YEARS.

Kia ora koutou friends & whānau of AAAP,

It’s been an incredibly busy year for the workers and volunteer advocates at Auckland Action Against Poverty. There’s is no holiday from the reality of this government’s policies and the terror they inflict on poor communities, but the people who give so much of their time and energy into the crucial work of AAAP are thoroughly exhausted and need to replenish. Everyone will be taking a well-deserved break. We hope to come back in the new year ready for an even bigger fight back alongside our friends in 2015.

Our office will be closed from Monday the 22nd of December and reopen in 2015 on the 12th of January.

We would like to thank everyone who has worked alongside us and supported our kaupapa this year- whether, financially, physically or in spirit. We wish you all Season’s Greetings. See you in 2015.

Ngā Mihi,

The team at AAAP

Children of the Recession: NZ’s shame

Media release Wednesday 29 October 2014

“It is to New Zealand’s deepest shame that the latest Unicef report on children living in poverty ranks us 16th out of 41 developed countries.

“Every day groups like ours see the devastating consequences for families trying to survive in conditions to which John Key and his Cabinet colleagues appear wilfully oblivious,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Sue Bradford.

“Children of the Recession notes that New Zealand’s situation has stagnated since the last report in 2008, indicating that for six years National-lead governments have done nothing effective to address child poverty.

“Until governments acknowledge that child poverty is actually about adult poverty, our standings in Unicef’s rankings will continue to slide.

“Wages and conditions for employed workers need to rise, backed by the ability of unions to bargain effectively – something the government is doing everything possible to undermine in the House right now.

“Our welfare system needs to offer parents sufficient income to meet the real needs of the family, rather than deliberately under resourcing those who rely on benefits for survival.

“Housing those who are homeless and in grossly substandard accommodation should be a statutory obligation. Instead, National continues to decimate state housing.

“In a news report this morning, new Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said that it “was unfair to make a comparison with Australia because that country did not go into an economic depression at that time.” (RNZ)

“Yet for years we’ve heard National boasting about our rock star economy.  New Zealand has never slipped into the depths of depression suffered by many of the other countries in this report.

“The Nats love to take kudos for any praise heaped on our supposed economic gains, while continuing to ignore the impacts of deepening poverty and inequality on adults and the children they support.

“It is a tragedy that the situation is only likely to worsen over the next three years.

“John Key does not need more reports from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and MSD to discover how to end child poverty.

“He and his newly minted caucus colleagues should instead take heed of all the research that has been done already and commit to real solutions to ending poverty and unemployment.”

John’s Job Fairs no fix for unemployment and poverty

Media release Tuesday 21 October 2014

 

“John Key has clearly been looking to the US for his latest bright idea on dealing with employment issues,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Sue Bradford.

“Job fairs where the desperately unemployed queue in their corporate best to compete for paid work are commonplace in America.

“They might sound new and sexy in today’s Speech from the Throne but will do nothing to create jobs for the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who need decent work at decent wages, now.

“If the government is concerned about reducing skills shortages, it would make far more sense to put resources into training and education here, instead of constantly reducing access to tertiary education – and staging job fairs in Brisbane and Sydney.

“In the most recent Household Labour Force Survey there were over 236,000 jobless people in New Zealand.

“This October job losses have been announced at Donaghys, Heinz-Wattie, Tasman Insulation, Wellpack and State Insurance – and that’s just so far.

“Job fairs might serve as a kind of glorified schools career day, but nothing will change for those who do not enough hours of paid work, or no paid work at all.

The welfare measures in National’s plan won’t help either.

Extending full income management for some people up to age 19 through non-State providers is part of the ever encroaching privatisation of welfare.

No jobs will be created by this extension of the government’s patronising, disempowering approach towards young adults who should be taking charge of their lives, not having the last vestiges of control removed from them.

John Key has come a long way since his Jobs Summit two terms of Parliament ago.  He is not even pretending to talk about job creation.

Instead we’re to have the superficial and meaningless fix of John’s Job Fairs, and the endless rollout of the Bennett/Rebstock vision for welfare.

Notice

Kia ora AAAP friends, whanau & those that might need our help with Work & Income issues – just to let you know we’re back in action for new beneficiary advocacy cases, after shutting our doors for a couple of weeks to catch up on all the work arising form the Mangere impact .

Phone us on (09) 634 0591, email contact@aaap.org.nz

film night poster

AAAP Film night fundraiser: ‘The Dark Horse’

 

Auckland Action Against Poverty are excited to announce we’re hosting our first fundraiser of 2014!

What: Film Night Fundraiser screening of ‘The Dark Horse’
Where: The Lido Cinema, 427 Manukau Road, Epsom, Auckland (venue is wheelchair accessible)
When: 7.45pm, Sunday 31st of August.

Ticket Price: $15 Unwaged/ Student – $25 Solidarity

“I do not say this lightly: The Dark Horse is not to be missed. It’s beautifully told, bravely executed, and truly inspiring.”- Kate Roger, TV3

This August, we worked with addressing some of the immediate needs of over 500 people in Mangere in just three-days at our annual benefit IMPACT. Our ongoing advocacy, direct action, education and campaigns could not happen without the generous support of individuals, unions and groups who believe in our kaupapa.

A group like ours is very difficult (if not impossible) to sustain out of government or philanthropic funding, so if you support our ongoing work please come along and bring your friends, whānau and workmates along and enjoy this highly recommended NZ film with us!

Seats are limited. Door sales will be available, however booking ahead strongly recommended. Please purchase your tickets through online deposit:

Auckland Action Against Poverty
38 9011 0832874 00

IMPORTANT: please reference as follows so we can allocate you your ticket/s.
Particulars: [Your First Name]
Code: [Your last Name]
Reference: Film

If you are booking multiple tickets, or have any questions please send an email to contact@aaap.org.nz

See you there!

For a full review see here.