The Government’s assault on living costs through taxes, higher petrol prices and increased rents has seen the number of hardship assistance grants handed out to struggling Kiwis skyrocket to almost 500,000, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“This Government has imposed a raft of new taxes and costs on New Zealanders, and it’s clear to see the most vulnerable are being hit the hardest.

“Under National, the number of people seeking hardship assistance from the Ministry of Social Development was much lower for basic necessities because we had a strong economy, better job creation, and more Kiwis were getting off the benefit and into work.

“In just under two years the number of grants handed out has exploded by 70 per cent to almost 500,000, suggesting a sharp increase in people struggling with the basics like housing, food and health.

“Labour’s disastrous KiwiBuild programme distracted it from providing housing for those in desperate need. In just one year there has been an extra $20 million in requests for emergency housing grants, and the state housing waiting list has soared.

“It’s clear the Government’s housing policies have had a wider effect. The average value for emergency housing grants has increased $300 in just one year because of higher rents, which have been driven up by increased regulation and tax changes.

“The answer isn’t to let the benefit queue get longer and longer. The answer is an economy that creates more opportunities to get into jobs and out of the cycle of dependency.

“The Government has forgotten our most vulnerable New Zealanders, and has made it harder for them to make ends meet.

“New Zealanders cannot afford this Government. National has a plan for a strong, growing economy that puts more Kiwis into work and keeps their cost of living low.”

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