Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomePoliticalBasic Income New Zealand Supports Call By Hapai Te Hauora

Basic Income New Zealand Supports Call By Hapai Te Hauora

Te Utu Tika Hei Oranga I Aotearoa, Basic Income New
Zealand, supports the call by Hapai Te Hauora, the largest
Maori public health collective in Aotearoa, for a Basic
Income for all New Zealanders. Hapai Te Hauora includes a
Basic Income as part of their vision for community
wellbeing. A Basic Income would confer upon all New
Zealanders the right to live and be well.

As advocates
for a Basic Income, Te Utu Tika Hei Oranga I Aotearoa,
welcomes the increase in welfare rates in the 2021
Government Budget. This will help relieve poverty for those
on the lowest incomes in New Zealand. Relieving poverty is
essential for “wellbeing and personal dignity”, and for a
transformative New Zealand economy.

But, is this
Budget transformative? It is a nudge but does not come near
to implementing the recommendations of the 2019 Welfare
Expert Advisory Group’s report.

Those on the lowest
incomes will spend their additional income on essentials
which will boost the incomes of local business, support
regional development and increase government tax revenues.
This makes the increased benefits largely

The increased threshold before welfare
payments begin to abate will allow people on welfare
increased access to work to supplement their incomes.
However, the threshold is not high enough and needs to be
increased significantly to allow people greater access to

Thresholds have not been increased in recent
years and have fallen well behind inflation making the
poverty trap worse. This is a catch-up rather than a
significant improvement. Thresholds should be increased
every year in line with inflation and abatement rates
reduced to eliminate poverty traps. Iain Middleton,
spokesperson for Te Utu Tika Hei Oranga I Aotearoa

“It is concerning that the abatement rates
remain unduly high. People working and earning beyond the
threshold face an initial effective marginal tax rate (EMTR)
of 80.5% which is considerable higher than the EMTR of 33%
or 39% that medium to high income earners face. Why should
those on the lowest incomes face the highest EMTRs? We call
on the government to raise the thresholds further and reduce
the abatement rates to eliminate poverty traps. The
introduction of a Basic Income for all New Zealanders would
eliminate poverty traps and the need for Job Seeker support

Basic Income has consistently been shown to
enhance the movement of people from unemployment to full
time employment while boosting local businesses and regional
development. Basic Income trials in other countries have
shown good outcomes for health, education, violence
reduction, and the recognition that family care is valued.
The trials have also shown that people make good decisions
for themselves and their families.

The security of a
consistent Basic Income gives freedom of choice and
self-direction. Constant surveillance of work arrangements
and personal circumstances is oppressive. Those in paid work
are not subjected to such oppressive intrusion in their
lives. With a Basic Income, the present paternalistic and
punitive Social Welfare system is replaced with a simpler
more humane

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