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Social Development Minister admits benefits 'not enough' for most Kiwis

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has told Q+A’s Jack Tame the current benefit levels are not conducive to living with dignity for many in Aotearoa.

It comes off the back of Stats NZ’s latest data which showed the number of Kiwi kids facing “material hardship” dropped by 20,000 in the last two years - however thousands of families remain in poverty.

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Jack Tame pressed Carmel Sepuloni on why the Government hasn’t done more, given its own working group recommended a hike two years ago. Source: Q+A

“I would acknowledge that for many New Zealanders, it's not enough. And so that is why we are continuing work in this space,” said Sepuloni.

Labour’s 2020 election manifesto outlines a key goal of ‘modernising the welfare system so all New Zealanders can live with dignity and contribute meaningfully to their communities.’

The Government has already indexed benefits to wage growth, which is currently sitting above the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Nevertheless, the Social Development Minister refused to nail down what her next steps would be ahead of this year’s Budget due in May.

“I’m not going to commit to when or what the increase next might look like”.

Sepuloni added areas such as housing, education and health all need attention, as “there is not one place where you need to tip a bucket of money.”

Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge sees those living in poverty daily and says “the jury’s out” on whether the Government has lived up to its promises since first elected in 2017.

“We've had conversations with Government and they're interested in things and they're pushing things. But lots of things haven't changed.

"For you to ask somebody who's struggling have Government done enough? The answer is clearly no,” he said.

You can see the full interviews tomorrow on Q+A, 9am on TVNZ 1 and streaming on 1News.co.nz.