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The number of New Zealanders needing assistance to eat and live is at record highs under the Labour-led Government, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“Hardship assistance has increased by $48 million in the past year. Under this Government Kiwi families are struggling to put food on the table. There were an extra 70,000 requests for assistance for food in the last year alone.

“They’re also battling to find accommodation. Emergency housing grants went from $6.6 million to $23 million in the space of a year. That’s more than three times higher than a year ago and the highest ever.

“With the Accommodation Supplement going up last year it’s incredible that more and more New Zealanders are struggling to afford accommodation.

“The number of Kiwis on benefits has increased by 13,000. Under National, we were moving more people into work – meaning them and their families were leading better lives. It’s hard to believe the number of people on the job seeker benefit keeps increasing when there are employers who are desperate for people to fill jobs.

“This Government is happy for that number to keep increasing. The number of sanctions being imposed is down 31 per cent since March 2018. This Government is not aspirational for New Zealanders. Sanctions are only imposed if someone fails to turn up for a job interview or work obligations several times.

“The Prime Minister has pledged to reduce child poverty, but the hardship and special needs grants figures show it’s getting tougher for those children living in benefit-dependent households. Where is the plan from this Government to get Kiwis off benefits and into work in order to help give their children a brighter future?

“It isn’t kind or compassionate to reduce incentives to work and to stop Kiwis being more aspirational and living more meaningful lives. National believes New Zealanders are better off in work and creating opportunities for them and their families.”

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