26 Jul 2020

Survey finds support for individuals receiving benefit despite relationship status

7:48 pm on 26 July 2020

A new UMR poll shows 47 percent of those surveyed support individuals accessing income support payments, regardless of their relationship status.

Work and Income offices

Work and Income offices Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Under current rules, someone who loses their job cannot access the jobseeker benefit if their partner is still employed full time.

The rate for an unemployed couple is lower than that for two single people combined.

Janet McAllister of the Child Poverty Action Group said the government is expecting people in relationships to be able to live on very little.

"So their system expects a couple to live on the equivilent of one full time minimum wage and all of us know it's difficult enough to make ends meet as a single person on minimum wage, let alone if you're two people on that wage."

Earlier this year, the Child Poverty Action Group, the Salvation Army, Lifewise and Auckland Action Against Poverty had expressed disappointment in the Budget's failure to address benefit levels.

Back in March, as part of the government's initial response to Covid-19, benefits were increased by $25 a week and the winter energy payment was doubled for this year.

However, the organisations said that did not go far enough and benefits were too low for families to cover their essential costs like rent, bills and food.

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