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John Campbell joins the queue at South Auckland Work and Income, as advocates demand change

Advocates for beneficiaries are calling for change, as the weekly occurrence of queueing outside the Manurewa branch of Work and Income becomes more apparent.

Families have been queueing up outside the South Auckland Work and Income office from as early as 2.30am on Thursdays in the hope of getting help from an advocate.

Emergency hardship grants for power, rent and to feed and clothe their families, the main reason for people in the queues which today reached numbers up to 50-70 people.

In the March quarter, 472,000 hardship grants were approved. More than double for the same quarter five years ago.

Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) Co-Chair, Kathleen Paraha told Breakfast's John Campbell that people are queuing for "just the basics."

"Mainly food grants, emergency homes, winter clothing, winter blankets," she says.

"A lot of them are in emergency homes and they don't have any furniture or anything like that so when they do get a home they get turned down because they have no furniture for the home."

Ms Paraha says finding a home is difficult for beneficiaries looking for permanent accommodation.

"A lot of them haven't got vehicles, so they walk most of the time and they have to come to us to use our computers just to try and look for somewhere for them to live."

"I know one person who is paying $600 for her rent, she only gets $649.00 a week and she gets turned away for food grants. And that's the kind of thing that's happening now - that's the reality," she says.

MSD Regional Commissioner, Mark Goldsmith says MSD wants to get people safe and in a nice home with "everything they need."

He said the costs in Auckland are "pretty high" and a benefit won't give them what they need and so employment "is the goal."

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Carmel Sepuloni says the ministry will work with AAAP to improve the system for beneficiaries.

Minister of Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni says she has talked to AAAP and asked they work together to get appointments set in advance so people don’t have to be out in the early hours of the morning.

She agrees benefits are not enough.

“It’s not just about what people are and are not getting from the welfare system, it’s the struggles they are experiencing in places like housing, access to health and a range of other areas. So this has to be an all-of-Government approach,” she says.

“MSD needs to make sure people are getting access to what they are eligible for.”

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Advocates alongside those in the Manurewa queues are calling for a system change. Source: 1 NEWS