Young child jumps off diving platform into swimming pool, sun shines from behind

Dear Jacinda, Carmel and Grant

No matter who we are or where we live, we know that our wellbeing is interconnected with those around us. When everyone has what they need to look after themselves and fully participate in their communities, we all flourish.

We all want every child in Aotearoa to experience a thriving and happy childhood. But right now, hundreds of thousands of children are constrained by poverty, despite parents’ best efforts.

We’ve had a long period of low wages and high housing costs. For decades, governments have underinvested in key public services that build well-being in all our communities, like public housing and income support. Many governments have prioritised policies that help the already well-off, including people who make money from housing.

As a result, too many parents are under-resourced, overstressed, and unable to give their children real opportunities to thrive.

Now due to the ongoing COVID-19 economic fallout, more families are being pushed into poverty.

Unemployment has risen at a record-breaking pace — increasing by nearly a third in the three months to September. Foodbanks and youth homelessness services are reporting huge increases in demand. By Christmas, it’s expected Work and Income will have allocated over 2.5 million hardship grants and advances this year alone.

The situation is urgent. As the new government, you can release the growing constraints on individuals, families, and children.

We are calling on you to lift one of the biggest limitations on whānau and child wellbeing: not having enough income.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, you acted quickly to set up the COVID income relief payment, which is nearly twice the amount of the usual jobseeker benefit. You showed us that you understand that current benefit levels are insufficient and lock families and children into poverty — an issue that affects all of us.

Now, we are asking you to apply the same common sense approach to all income support. To make sure everyone, whether they are working, caring for children, living with a disability or illness, learning, or have lost their jobs before or because of COVID-19, has a liveable income.

Doing so will help achieve your vision of making Aotearoa the best place to be a child.

Before the election, the Labour party has consistently said there’s more work to be done to lift families out of poverty. You now have the mandate and opportunity to do so. Please increase income support before Christmas.

A graphic with the words “signed” in big, and all the logos of the 70 organisations who have signed the letter around it.
A graphic with the words “signed” in big, and all the logos of the 70 organisations who have signed the letter around it.

75 NGOs including:

  1. ActionStation
  2. Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers
  3. Anglican Action
  4. Auckland Action Against Poverty
  5. Auckland City Mission
  6. Auckland Women’s Centre
  7. Barnardos
  8. Belong Aotearoa
  9. Beneficiaries & Unwaged Worker Trust
  10. Beneficiary Advocacy Services Christchurch
  11. Benefit Rights Service
  12. Birthright NZ
  13. Brainwave Trust Aotearoa
  14. CCS Disability Action
  15. Child Poverty Action Group
  16. Citizens Advice Bureau
  17. Community Housing Aotearoa
  18. Community Networks Aotearoa
  19. Disabled Persons Assembly
  20. E Tipu E Rea Whānau Services
  21. Equality Network
  22. FinCap
  23. FIRST Union
  24. Gender Justice Collective
  25. Gene Now Financial Literacy Trust
  26. Generation Zero
  27. Heretaunga Women’s Centre
  28. Hutt Valley Benefit Education Service Trust (BEST)
  29. Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective
  30. Len Reynolds Trust
  31. Lifewise
  32. Manaaki Rangatahi
  33. Manawatū Tenants’ Union
  34. Māngere East Community Centre
  35. Māngere East Family Services
  36. M.E. Awareness NZ
  37. Mental Health Foundation
  38. Methodist Alliance
  39. Methodist City Action
  40. Monte Cecilia Housing Trust
  41. National Council of Women
  42. New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services
  43. New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
  44. New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations
  45. Ngā Tāngata Microfinance
  46. NZ Disability Advisory Trust
  47. NZ Accessibility Advisory Trust
  48. NZEI Te Riu Roa
  49. OMEP Aotearoa
  50. Pacific Women’s Watch NZ
  51. Poverty Action Waikato
  52. PPTA
  53. Public Issues Network: Methodist Church
  54. Public Service Association
  55. Renters United
  56. Salvation Army
  57. Save the Children
  58. Sisters of Mercy Wiri
  59. Social Justice Group of the Auckland Anglican Diocese
  60. Social Link
  61. St Anne’s Pantry
  62. St Matthews in the City
  63. Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services
  64. Te Ngākau Kahukura
  65. Tick for Kids
  66. Tokona Te Raki
  67. United Community Action Network
  68. Unite Union Aotearoa
  69. Urban Neighbours of Hope
  70. VisionWest
  71. Waipareira Trust
  72. We Are Beneficiaries
  73. Wesley Community Action
  74. Whānau Āwhina Plunket
  75. YWCA Auckland