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

Protest planned for PM's post-Budget speech

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 POVERTY

Media 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