Evidence is overwhelming that incomes are inadequate for many people, both those receiving a benefit and those in low-paid work. Current levels of support fail to cover even basic costs for many people, let alone allowing them to meaningfully participate in their communities. In New Zealand, poverty and benefit receipt are strongly associated. Māori, Pacific People, people with health conditions and disabilities, and young people are especially adversely affected.
Many sources of information inform this report, including our consultation and hui with communities, our research using example families, and analysis about the current rates of poverty and hardship in New Zealand (particularly for families with children and people receiving benefits).
Living in poverty often results in long-lasting, poor outcomes for benefit recipients, their children, families and whānau, and society. Evidence is strong of the negative effects that poverty has on a wide range of children’s outcomes, including cognitive development, school attainment, health and social, emotional and behavioural development. Evidence is also emerging of poverty’s negative impacts on the mental health of people of all ages.
The Government must urgently increase the incomes of people in receipt of a benefit and in low-wage work and maintain these increases over time so that they keep pace with the incomes of the rest of the community. It must also reduce the barriers to people accessing this support and commit to a social security system where people are treated with dignity.