NZ benefit levels rise, but anti-poverty campaigners say it is not enough
Last updated 10:38, April 1 2017
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ
Benefits have risen, but critics say they are not high enough in Auckland.
Benefits levels and the minimum wage have risen, but anti-poverty campaigners aren't happy.
The adult minimum wage rose by 50 cents an hour from $15.25 to $15.75 an hour on April 1, while benefits rates increased by 1.1 per cent.
The "starting out" and "training" wage rose from $12.20 an hour to $12.60.
Superannuitants did a little better, with NZ Super rates rising by 1.4 per cent.
READ MORE: Minimum wage increases do not appear to be choking the job market
But Auckland Action Against Poverty has criticised the rise in the minimum wage, saying it would make no difference to the living standards of struggling low-wage workers.
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ
ACC levies for employers and the self-employed are to fall by 10 per cent.
"With the costs of living increasing, a low wage economy, and welfare reforms which have caused increased poverty, this wage increase is an insult," said AAAP spokeswoman Vanessa Cole.
She said unemployment and competition for work enabled employers to pay "poverty wages" to workers.
In Auckland, the minimum full-time wage would give a worker $640 a week.
"In Auckland, where average rents are now over $500, this increase will do little for those struggling to pay rent and basic necessities," she said.
When the rise in minimum wage was announced in January, workplace relations minister Michael Woodhouse said: "The Government is committed to striking the right balance between protecting our lowest paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost."
"An increase to $15.75 will benefit approximately 119,500 workers and will increase wages throughout the economy by $65 million per year."
"At a time when annual inflation is 0.4 per cent, a 3.3 per cent increase to the minimum wage will give our lowest paid workers more money in their pockets, without hindering job growth or imposing undue pressure on businesses," Woodhouse said.
ACC levies for employers and the self employed are to fall by an average of 10 per cent over the next two years.