Release: Less money in most people’s pockets this April

Changes to minimum wage and benefit indexation means many New Zealanders will get less this year, as the Government gives a big tax break to landlords instead.

Under Labour, April 1 minimum wage increases meant thousands of New Zealanders would get more in their pockets for every hour of work they did. Benefits were also matched to wages rather than inflation, which was seen as one of the best things a government could do to lift children out of poverty in New Zealand. 

“Unfortunately, there will be less for many kiwi families from April 1 this year as the Government chooses to fork out $2.9 billion for landlords instead,” Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni said.

“This Government’s measly 2% increase to the minimum wage means lower paid workers will again fall behind inflation and go backwards in real terms.

“The effects of the reversal of Labour’s key change to ensure benefits rose when wages did, which the Children’s Commissioner said was the best thing that could be done to lift children out of poverty, will also start to be felt. The change means someone on jobseeker support will be $50 a week worse-off, while someone on a disability benefit will be $60 a week worse off by 2030, which is between $2600 to $3120 less a year.

“These decisions by the National Government will make life a lot harder for those doing it the toughest.

“Even the support that is available is becoming more difficult to access. Those on jobseeker benefits are having to re-apply for support much more often. National’s only real cost of living policy so far, which took 118 days to announce, is a rebate that parents have to get invoices for and claim back.  

“These changes, alongside reducing carers’ access to disability support and not committing to funding school lunches for kids will see many people getting or saving less.  

“All the savings this government is making from reducing what hard-working Kiwis are entitled to is to pay for a political promise of tax cuts which won’t help as many people as claimed, and a nearly $3 billion tax break for landlords.

“This is about choices: landlords or disability funding; tax cuts or the school lunch programme, proper minimum wage increases and a policy that would lift children out of poverty.  

“This April 1 we wish we could say the choices this National Government’s making are a joke. But taking working people backwards and making support harder to get certainly isn’t funny to us,” Carmel Sepuloni said.