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'Progress has been made' - Minister defends Government's record on helping struggling Kiwis

The Social Development Minister has today defended the rebranding of The Social Investment Agency and the Government's record on helping struggling New Zealanders.

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The Social Development Minister says progress has been made but admits there is more that could be done. Source: Breakfast

As of March 19, The Social Investment Agency launched by the previous Government will be re-branded as The Social Welbeing agency.

It is aimed at ensuring a people-focused approach that redefines social investment by combining science, data and lived experience for New Zealanders.

The Government’s confirmation of the rebrand, yesterday, comes amid growing calls for more to be done for income adequacy in New Zealand, and for Kiwis living in poverty, struggling to feed and house themselves.

The Salvation Army’s State of the Nation report has even called for a 30 per cent increase to benefits.

Speaking to TVNZ1's Breakfast today Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni defended the agency's re-brand and said the Government is taking action for those in need. 

"In that report (Salvation Army) they do make note of the fact that progress has been made," said Ms Sepuloni.

"Is there more to do? Absolutely there's more to do. I'm really excited about the fact that on the 1st of April we'll see indexation coming in, wages have risen faster than CPI so that will make a difference. 

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Lieutenant Colonel Ian Hutson told TVNZ1’s Breakfast the Government needs to do more for Kiwis living in poverty. Source: 1 NEWS

"Are we committed to addressing income adequacy for the poorest households in New Zealand? Yes we are," says Ms Sepuloni. 

On the agency's re-brand, Ms Sepuloni said Government was concerned with the previous Government's approach to New Zealanders with their social investment approach. She said people were treated as "potential fiscal liabilities". 

"Our focus is on the well-being of New Zealanders and we take into consideration people's lived experience rather than just looking at them as numbers," she said. 

"The case study that we just launched yesterday with the Southern Initiative really shows the different approach that lived experience brings out information that describes people's complex situations and is much richer than just analytical data."