The legacies in New Zealand of tax cuts for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor and jobs lost to technology and globalisation are having an impact.
The most recent figures, from the Ministry of Social Development's 2016 Household Income Report, show the highest-earning 10 per cent of Kiwis used to make five to six times more than the lowest 10 percent. Now, their income is 9 times higher.
Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox says the twin factors of low incomes and housing unaffordability mean more Kiwis are struggling. "We are finding more families that we can't find a solution for, it's hard to balance their budget when there's just not enough money," she says. "Incomes haven't risen significantly, and housing costs are becoming impossible. Sometimes we're seeing housing costs that are 50-60 percent of the family income, and that doesn't leave enough to live on." Basically: "We are finding more families in the lower to middle-income bracket who are finding it impossible to cope."
New Zealand inequality expert and the author of Wealth in New Zealand, Max Rashbrooke, says "There are more people struggling, and that at least in part means that WINZ is taking an unnecessarily punitive approach towards dealing with beneficiaries." He goes on to point out that "People begin to live very different lives. They lose that sense of other people's lives, they lose that sense of empathy for each other so trust declines. Society is less cohesive." It also creates an uneven playing field; the children of less privileged parents are not as likely to succeed.
If you wish to end inequality contact:
World Socialist Party (New Zealand)