Beneficiaries calling for changes to New Zealand's welfare system

Posted by On 12:51 PM

Beneficiaries calling for changes to New Zealand's welfare system

Beneficiaries calling for changes to New Zealand's welfare system

STUFFRicardo Menendez March wants changes to the welfare system

After Kathleen Paraha pays her rent and bills there's not much money left over to buy food.

The 60-year-old, who lives in Papatoetoe, south Auckland, receives a supported living benefit that provides her with a weekly income of less than $150, she says.

"There's nothing left for luxuries. I can't even buy a bar of chocolate.

South Auckland woman Kat   hleen Paraha was among the people who went along to the Government's welfare expert advisory group public consultation in Māngere East today.
CHRIS HARROWELLSouth Auckland woman Kathleen Paraha was among the people who went along to the Government's welfare expert advisory group public consultation in Māngere East today.

"My kids buy me groceries sometimes and my daughter gives me a little bit of food and money."

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Paraha was one of about 80 people who went along to share their views at a public consultation in Māngere, south Auckland, hosted by the Government's welfare expert advisory group.

The group was established earlier this year to provide advice on possible changes to the system.

It's hosting public consultations around the country to hear the views of Kiwis who receive benefits.

Paraha says she suffers from a range of medical issues.

She's been on the benefit since 2014 and can't work due to her illnesses.

Benefits should be increased to at least $200 a week to be "liveable", she says.

Among the audience also was fellow Papatoetoe local Frederick Andrews, who receives the jobseeker support benefit and is an advocate for the group Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP).

Auckland Action Against Poverty co-ordinator Ricardo Menendez March says benefits aren't keeping up with the cost of rent or the price of food.
CHRIS HARROWELLAuckland Action Against Poverty co-ordinator R icardo Menendez March says benefits aren't keeping up with the cost of rent or the price of food.

He says benefits don't provide a high enough income and "it's a struggle" to survive on one.

"Get us above the poverty line by increasing the benefit," Andrews told Stuff.

"We provide an advocacy service at the Manurewa Work and Income [branch] and 85 per cent of the people we help are Māori.

"We're paupers in our own country."

AAAP co-ordinator Ricardo Menendez March says the organisation helped beneficiaries get along to the public consultation in Māngere East to make sure their voices are being heard.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced the formation of the Government's welfare expert advisory group earlier this year. (file photo)
PHIL WALTERSocial Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced the formation of the Government's welfare expert advisory group earlier this year. (file photo)

"For too long we've heard benefit levels are far too low.

"They're not keeping up with the cost of rent or the price of food."

The current welfare system is not built on support or compassion, Menendez March says.

"We want the Government to make sure they hear the voices of the people most affected, which are the people we work with."

The next welfare expert advisory group public consultation is in Kelston, West Auckland, on October 9, before moving to other cities.

Stuff

Source: Google News New Zealand | Netizen 24 New Zealand

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