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Figures released as part of the Ministry of Social Development annual review show almost half a billion dollars was paid out in hardship grants during the last financial year, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“In the last financial year $480 million was paid out in hardship grants, with each client receiving an average of $1500, however in many cases that’s higher. One individual received 223 hardship grants in the past year totalling $50,000.

“This is a stark reminder of the level of financial hardship Kiwis are feeling as a result of this Government’s policies and shows they’re not investing in long-term solutions to get Kiwis out of poverty.

“New Zealanders are doing it tough under this Labour-led Government. Tax after tax is being piled on, petrol prices and rents are increasing. More and more Kiwis are struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their head.

“National believes the best route out of poverty is through work, but under this Government, Case Managers are spending almost half their time working on hardship grants and less time on helping Kiwis into employment. The Prime Minister came into office with big talk around tackling poverty but her Government is failing to deliver.

“Under National the number of people seeking hardship assistance was lower because there was less pressure on household budgets. The previous Government focussed on a strong economy, job creation and more Kiwis moving off benefits and into the workforce.

“New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.”

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