Emergency grants skyrocket

Jacinda Ardern, pained expression

Emergency housing payments have risen by 200% over the past year. The government says this is due to the housing crisis; maybe it is, at least in part. However, this government came in on promises to fix housing, fix homelessness, fix child poverty and make everything wonderful again. 15 months in, they are finally realising that these things cannot be fixed with the wave of a magic wand. quote.

Welfare payments for emergency housing have skyrocketed almost 200 per cent over the last year, while hardship payments for food have risen 38 per cent.

The Opposition says this is due to the rising cost of living, but Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says it is because of the housing crisis.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Social Development officials will meet tomorrow with Hawke’s Bay apple growers, who have been struggling to find workers.

The latest MSD figures for the December 2018 quarter, released today, show that 9.9 per cent of working-age people are on a main benefit – up slightly from 9.8 per cent in December 2017. end quote.

9.9% are on benefits when employers are screaming out for workers? What the hell is going on? quote.

Over the same period, government assistance through the Families Package has contributed to a 10.5 per cent drop – 7567 fewer people – in Temporary Additional Support/Special Benefit, which cover living costs when income is not enough.

But the number of special needs grants for emergency housing leapt from 6172 in the December 2017 quarter to 15,676 a year later – a 154 per cent increase.

That amounted to $19.5 million in government payments, a 198 per cent increase from the December 2017 quarter.

Hardship payments for food also jumped, from $14.3 million in the December 2017 quarter to $19.8 million in the December 2018 quarter – a 38 per cent rise. end quote.

In a market where housing is so expensive, the only way to get ahead, or even just make ends meet, is to work. Admittedly, even then it can be tough going for people on low incomes, but at least they are trying. quote.

The Government announced in last year’s Budget that it wants to build 6400 state houses over four years.

Sepuloni said it would take time for the Government’s programme to have an effect on the number of emergency housing grants, but she did not want to say how long it might take.

“I’m not a clairvoyant … All I can say is that, as a government, we’ve prioritised housing and we’re working as quickly and as responsibly as we can to address the demand.” end quote.

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Four years is too long. There are over 6000 people on waiting lists for social housing now, and that is only going to get worse as landlords leave the market. This government has already had over 15 months to start a building programme for social housing. So far, it has done… nothing. The result of them sitting on their hands is that the problems just get worse and worse.

This government blames the housing crisis, and with that, they make a veiled stab at the previous government. However, the government that campaigned on reducing immigration has allowed over 96,000 immigrants into the country since they have been in government. The housing crisis may have started under the previous government, but it has gotten a lot worse under the present one.

The only thing this government is good at is blaming the previous government. That’s all they can do. In the meantime, immigration gets worse, housing gets worse and more and more people are claiming government handouts at a time when unemployment is at record lows. Never mind. It is not this government’s fault. Put it all down to ‘9 years of neglect’.