Welfare beneficiaries to get their annual increase soon but poverty action group is bound to press for more

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

Good news flowed from the Beehive at the weekend for Ngāti Maru treaty claimants and – affecting significantly more people – welfare beneficiaries.

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced that main benefits will increase by 3.1 percent on 1 April, in line with the rise in the average wage.

She reminded us the Government announced changes to the annual adjustment of main benefits in Budget 2019, indexing main benefit increases to the average wage, rather than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

This is the Government’s second annual adjustment based on increases in the average wage,

“ …  making it fairer on low income families and helping reduce poverty amongst our most vulnerable,” said Carmel Sepuloni.

Around 385,000 families and individuals will be better off getting more than double the annual increase they’d have received using the old Consumer Price Index measure, she said. For example, a couple with children could get $13.24 more Jobseeker Support a week from 1 April in line with the average wage increase.

Under the previous system indexed to the CPI increase of 1.15 percent, they would receive only $4.95. The changes aligned main benefit adjustments more closely with Superannuation which has been linked to average wage increases for decades.

The 830,000 New Zealanders receiving Superannuation will also receive the same 3.1 percent increase on 1 April. 

“Combined with this Government’s 1 April changes to income abatement thresholds, helping incentivise those who are working to remain in work, underlines our promise to help low income New Zealanders.

“This is another step towards lifting wages and making our welfare system fairer so that people and families on benefits don’t fall further and further behind other New Zealanders,” said Carmel Sepuloni.

But we shouldn’t expect the Child Poverty Action Group to be silenced. 

Commenting on the latest child poverty statistics, the group said the pre-Covid statistics overall were deeply disappointing; for families with disabilities, “they’re absolutely shocking,” said CPAG spokesperson Innes Asher, Professor Emeritus.

Most of the nine measures showed no statistical change over the 21 months to March 2020.

Professor Asher said: 

“We urgently need the government to raise income support significantly for our children in families receiving benefits, and the government needs to use a multi-pronged approach to tackling the housing crisis.

“Incrementalism isn’t working. Persistently delaying implementing the bulk of the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group isn’t working.”

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little announced the signing of the Deed of Settlement between Ngāti Maru and the Crown settling the iwi’s claims.

The Ngāti Maru rohe is centred on the inland Waitara River valley, east to the Whanganui River and its tributaries, and west to Mount Taranaki. They have approximately 2,800 registered members.

The historical grievances of Ngāti Maru include the Crown’s unjust and indiscriminate confiscation (raupatu) of half of the iwi’s land in 1865. This raupatu, and subsequent effects of Compensation Court and Native Land Court decisions, were devastating to the mana, welfare, economy, and socio-cultural development of Ngāti Maru.

The Crown’s actions at Parihaka between 1879 and 1881, where military forces imprisoned members of Ngāti Maru for participating in a peaceful resistance campaign, has been a significant burden for Ngāti Maru, Little said.

The settlement includes an apology from the Crown and a set of acknowledgements addressing the Crown’s historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. Ngāti Maru will receive financial and commercial redress valued at $30 million. Cultural redress includes the vesting of 16 sites of cultural significance, including Pūrangi and Tarata Domains. 

A copy of the Deed of Settlement is available at https://www.govt.nz/browse/history-culture-and-heritage/treaty-settlements/find-a-treaty-settlement/ngati-maru-taranaki/

Latest from the Beehive

28 FEBRUARY 2021

Main benefits to increase in line with wages

27 FEBRUARY 2021

Deed of Settlement signed with Ngāti Maru (Taranaki)

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