Last week a woman came into my office in tears. Not that unusual. She works. Doesn’t earn a lot. Her husband had been laid off. He was receiving a benefit, but it wasn’t much because of her work. He had scored a few hours work in a job where they couldn’t offer full time work, though they valued him.
He had to scale back those work hours because he couldn’t get the benefit and work many hours and the hours didn’t pay enough to enable him to come off the benefit. He’d had to make a choice. He wanted to work. He was donating some hours to the workplace as a result. In order to keep in the game.
They have bills to pay. She was in tears because they’d had to make a decision that week whether to pay the electricity bill or the bank, which was pressuring them to pay some mortgage payments they had been unable to.
It was hard to know what to advise. They simply didn’t have the money. WINZ couldn’t give them any more assistance. I could only see more hardship down the line for these people who were in this position through no fault of their own.
What’s next for them? Having to sell the house, at a price less than they bought it for. Slipping backwards as they head for retirement. Rented accomodation, nothing to hand on to the next generation.
This is the plight of many New Zealanders right now. People struggling. Not much to hope for.
I sometimes despair. According to John Key and Bill English things are looking up. But they’re clearly not for these people and many others like them.
The SST did a good piece today on poverty. If you haven’t; do read it, because it says the new face of poverty isn’t people on benefits, but people on low wages. Every foodbank around the country will nod their head to this. Prices are going up. Wages aren’t. People can’t cope.
People want and need a plan.
This graph says it all really