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To: Prime Minister and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Jacinda Ardern, and Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni

Take seven steps toward a fairer future for all of us

People in Aotearoa want to see a fairer future where everyone has the resources they need to build the lives they want for themselves and their families. We’re calling on you to take these seven steps to unlock people and whānau from the constraints of poverty:

1. Increase core benefit levels to the standard of liveable incomes
2. Raise the minimum wage to the living wage
3. Increase the Disability Allowance
4. Overhaul relationship rules
5. Remove sanctions
6. Wipe debt owed to the Ministry of Social Development
7. Improve supplementary assistance and urgent grants

Why is this important?

No matter who we are or where we live, everyone deserves a fair go. When we have the things we need like a roof overhead, kai on the table, and support around us, we can build great lives for ourselves and our whānau.

During the pandemic, wealth has been further unfairly concentrated in the hands of just a few. As corporations - like banks, supermarkets, and energy companies - brag to their shareholders about record profits, prices rise dramatically for basics like food, rent, and petrol. [1] Private companies have cashed in on the Covid crisis, generating record profits for them and record hardship for many of us.

We had a long period of high housing costs and low wages before COVID hit our shores. Successive governments had chosen to underinvest in services that support wellbeing - like public housing and income support. With inflation rising, hundreds of thousands of tamariki across Aotearoa are living within the constraints of poverty, despite their parents’ best efforts.

These seven steps are a circuit breaker for people and whānau whose lives have been most disrupted by the cost of living crisis and the pandemic. Parents, workers, carers, and learners on low incomes - whether they are currently working or not - who are doing their best to provide for themselves and their loved ones. They’re backed by 40 groups who work for all families to thrive.

These are tangible steps people in government can choose to take to unlock families from poverty. They’ve been developed by the Fairer Future coalition which is made up of communities, and organisations working and living on the frontlines of poverty, and those who support and serve them. [2]

The first three steps are about ensuring everyone has a liveable income - backed by research on what a liveable income is right now - including an increase to the disability allowance to ensure ongoing costs for disabled people are covered. [3]

The other steps are changes to policies and practices to make sure everyone can live with dignity:
Making sure people can get into relationships without their incomes getting cut.
- Removing sanctions - where benefits are reduced, suspended or cancelled, often for confusing, arbitrary, or demeaning reasons.
- Wiping debt owed to the Ministry for Social Development that’s often accrued by the Ministry making mistakes in their payments due to the complexity of the system. [4]
- Improving supplementary assistance and urgent grants to make sure people have what they need to cover ongoing costs like rent, and help through times of hardship.

The Seven Steps work in tandem to ensure everyone can participate fully in society. They will create a welfare system we can be proud of for supporting our communities through economic shocks - like the pandemic and climate crisis - and recognising everyone for their worth.

When people have to choose between rent, warmth, and food, our society is out of balance. Now’s the time for the Government to build a fairer future for all of us by taking these steps. Our wellbeing is interconnected; when everyone in our communities has what they need, we all flourish.

References and further reading:
1. Banks, energy companies post huge profits as households struggle. 1 News, 25 August 2022: https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/08/25/banks-energy-companies-post-huge-profits-as-households-struggle/
2. The Seven Steps for a Fairer Future report. Fairer Future, May 2022: https://fairerfuture.org.nz/seven-steps-for-a-fairer-future
3. What are Liveable Incomes in 2022? Fairer Future, March 2022: https://fairerfuture.org.nz/liveable-incomes-2022
4. Welfare debts pushing thousands into ‘poverty trap’. NZ Herald, December 2021: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/politics/welfare-debts-pushing-thousands-into-poverty-trap/EPGLUQODX56EEZLFNY7XLXV2ZI/

Updates

2022-11-15 08:01:27 +1300

1,000 signatures reached

2022-11-14 13:33:21 +1300

500 signatures reached

2022-11-14 10:52:14 +1300

100 signatures reached

2022-11-14 10:44:12 +1300

50 signatures reached

2022-11-14 10:39:42 +1300

25 signatures reached

2022-11-14 09:50:39 +1300

10 signatures reached