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It’s unthinkable the Prime Minister doesn’t believe over a quarter of a million hardship assistance grants being provided for food is evidence of a problem, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“The Prime Minister has attributed the 116 per cent growth in the number of hardship assistance grants for food to making ‘access easier’ and removing barriers to hardship grants. But that just isn’t the case.

“Almost 100,000 hardship grants were given for food each month over the winter. The real reason more New Zealanders are struggling to afford to put food on the table is this Government’s policies are driving up the cost of living. Vulnerable Kiwis just don’t have the funds left over to buy even basic necessities.

“It’s not kind or caring to drive up the cost of living so much that hundreds of thousands of Kiwis are forced to turn to the Government for help, but the Prime Minister seems not to think that’s a problem.

“Rents are up $50 per week because this Government imposed and threatened more costly regulations on landlords, threatened a Capital Gains Tax, extended the bright-line test and ring-fenced losses on rental properties. In addition, there’s been a pile-on of petrol taxes that’s disproportionately affected the poorest Kiwis.

“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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