Salvation Army calls for 30 per cent increase to benefits as 'desperate' Kiwis struggle to feed and house themselves

The Salvation Army is calling on the Government to increase welfare benefits by 30 per cent, following the release of its latest State of the Nation report this morning.

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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

The "NZ Can Do Better" report focuses on New Zealanders living in poverty, highlighting the 174,000 children living in “deepest poverty”, and calls on the Government to do more.

Salvation Army's Lieutenant Colonel Ian Hutson told TVNZ1’s Breakfast there needs to be investment made into people as well as infrastructure.

“We’ve had investment in roads and so forth, we think there’s a real need for something significant to be invested, in particular with beneficiaries we think in somewhere in the region of a 30 per cent increase on average,” says Mr Hutson.

“Along with that obviously a really significant effort in housing to get at the lower end, social or community housing, and also rent to buy, that type of thing.

“Otherwise we might miss that opportunity that we have to deal to this really entrenched poverty that we have at the moment.”

Mr Hutson says the Salvation Army sees people struggling on a daily basis.

“I mean we’ve got food banks ongoing it’s just become normalised where people come in desperate looking for housing, struggling to put food on the table and we think that a benefit increase is absolutely needed,” he says.

Though Mr Hutson highlights there is some good news in the report too.

“We’ve got low unemployment, average wages are up, house builds are at a 45-year high, social housing, beneficiaries accessing more benefits and so forth, youth crime down,” he says.

“There’s quite a few good things in this report. It’s not a bad report, but when you look at the levels of poverty we really do need to do better.”