A Salvation Army report highlighting the impact the cost of living is having on many families should motivate the Government to work hard to address the drivers of deprivation National Party spokesperson for Social Development Louise Upston says.
“Today’s report says that in the past calendar year, sixty per cent of families requesting help with basics from the Army were new to the organisation - an average of 336 families every week.
“It puts the blame squarely on rising rents, petrol prices and basic food costs.
“That’s why it’s imperative the Government focuses firmly on addressing the drivers of poverty by growing the economy to create more jobs and to lift incomes.
“It is therefore mind-boggling that this Ardern-Peters Government is introducing new fuel taxes that will not only increase the cost of an average tank by $15, but will also directly impact the cost of food because of increased transport costs.
“Ill thought-out policies like these are harmful to our most vulnerable families and do nothing but take New Zealand backwards by undermining an economy which is delivering for all New Zealanders.
“Contrast that with our record where in the last two years of the National Government the economy created 231,000 jobs at average of 9,600 per month.
“During our term in office we raised the minimum wage from $12 an hour in 2008 to $15.75 in 2016/17. That’s an increase of 31 per cent – more than twice the rate of inflation.
“We increased benefits for the first time in 40 years and, since 2011, reduced the number of children living in benefit-dependent households by 60,000.
“Every effort must be made to help those living in material hardship and it’s encouraging many are coming forward to receive the assistance that they need – but, in the long term, any positive impact on hardship must be underpinned by sensible policies and strong economic management,” Ms Upston says.