Lockdowns push families and migrants to the edge – advocates

No caption

2021-09-18 12:18:01

Lockdowns and restrictions have pushed some families and groups to the bone financially, and the government needs to offer better support for those on the breadline, social support groups say.

No caption

Photo: 123rf

Child Poverty Action Group spokeswoman Janet McAllister said restriction rules to stop the spread of Covid-19 meant many families faced bigger bills and some were struggling.

Although the lockdown has lasted longer for Auckland -Tāmaki Makaurau, families around the country have been stretched, and many have taken on higher debt to cope.

She said increases to benefits last year were completely eaten away by inflation. And increased government funding for food banks was not a fix for the core problem for families, which is a lack of money.

“We know for disadvantaged families and whānau around the country that they will still be trying to catch up with those high bills which will still be coming through.

“Or they may have gone into debt and we’re concerned that that could be long-term for people that just don’t have any room in their budget to absorb those costs.”

An earlier report by the group found about 18,000 more children may have been pushed into poverty by the flow-on effects of the pandemic, for the year to March.

Bernie Smith.

Monte Cecilia Housing chief executive Bernie Smith.
Photo: RNZ / Charlie Dreaver

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust is working with 2700 families in 590 properties across West and South Auckland.

Its chief executive Bernie Smith said many clients had lost their casual or part-time jobs.

“What the wider community need to understand – and probably need a little bit of paradigm shift in the sense of empathy for these families – is they’re already in crisis, so [this] is on top of the crisis they’re already living in”.

Smith said the government’s focus had been on keeping businesses alive during the pandemic, and there had been no increase in support for families.

A legal advocate representing Chinese construction workers stranded in New Zealand said many were suffering dire financial circumstances.

May Moncur has been assisting four workers laid off during last year’s lockdown and left destitute.

But she said others had contacted her in recent weeks who are in even worse predicaments because they don’t have valid work visas.

Workers like these were forced to take cash jobs to survive, and are vulnerable to exploitation, she said.

“They are in constant fear of being [found out] due to their immigration status, and also they are in constant distress concerning their financial situation.”

She said many had incurred debt to come to New Zealand and cannot afford to go home.

#Lockdowns #push #families #migrants #edge #advocates

Source by [earlynews24.com]