Inequality getting worse under National

Inequality is getting worse under National with almost 60 per cent of the wealth in this country concentrated in the hands of the top 10 per cent according to Statistics NZ figures released today, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“Reducing inequality should be the number one priority of this Government. It is taking away opportunity and undermining the economic and social security of our country. Sadly the National Party continues to turn its back on this issue.

“The ramifications of inequality have become clear in recent days in the Brexit vote and also in the way the US Presidential primaries have played out. One of the consequences of inequality is that it creates a large group of disenfranchised people who feel forgotten and alienated. They then become easy targets for peddlers of fear and hate.

“New Zealand’s inequality is worse than the UK, Australia and Canada. In New Zealand the net worth of the bottom 20 per cent is less than a quarter of the net worth of the top 20 per cent.

“And it’s only going to get worse. The bottom 20 per cent owe more than they own, while the top 20 per cent own more than 20 times what they owe. This presents a risk to low-income households if interest rates rise.

“The big driver in asset inequality is the family home. National’s inability to solve the housing crisis is locking a generation out of home ownership. This makes it almost impossible for low income households to catch up. That is why Labour is committed to taking action and building 100,000 affordable homes.

“As a nation we have long believed everyone deserves a fair go. Right now, National’s policies are holding back New Zealanders from achieving the Kiwi Dream of a home of your own, opportunities for everyone’s kids to succeed, and security and freedom to make your own choices. This is increasingly out of reach for many people.

“The next Labour Government will do what National has failed to do – take action to reignite the egalitarian principles this country was founded on,” says Grant Robertson.