The Government announced plans this week to increase main benefits by 7.2%, the rate of inflation, increase superannuation by over $100 a pay for a couple, increase student support rates in line with inflation and increase childcare assistance income thresholds from the 1st of April.
“This package is welcomed, however it is a small step to alleviate a hardship for whanau, who are struggling to put kai on the table, to have a roof over their heads and to pay their bills” says Mangere Budgeting Services Trust CEO, Lara Dolan.
According to Statistics New Zealand, food prices have risen 12% in the year that ended in February 2023. Fruit and vegetables led the rise with a 23.1% increase. Meat, poultry, and fish prices rose 9.8 % in the same period and the prices at the petrol pumps are also increasing.
All these rises are significantly higher than the 7.2% increase in the main benefits or pension.
In addition, the package does not provide any relief to those who are not on benefits or the working poor.
It would be good if the Government, in addition to welfare payments, increased Family Tax Credit (FTC) and In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC) or looked at lowering GST for fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish.
Over the last year Mangere Budgeting Services Trust supported over 1,000 individuals or whanau with food relief, provided 2,314 financial mentoring sessions, and supported tamariki to re-engage in education and helped whanau with COVID preparedness.