Maori women beneficiaries repay their debt to MSD at a higher rate than men, their Pākehā counterparts

Brooke Pao Stanley of Auckland Action Against Poverty said people take these loans just for a living.

“If you get a food subsidy, you don’t have to pay it back, but everything else if you need help with rent, arrears on bills, if your babies need uniforms, stationery, Help with car repairs, it all becomes a debt to you, she said.

Refunds are set at the discretion of MSD staff.

Men pay an average of $ 11.09 per week, while women pay an average of $ 16.33 per week. When divided by ethnicity, Pākehā pay an average of 12.78 cents per week and Māori $ 16.01 per week.

The numbers were obtained by Green MP Ricardo Menendez March, who said it stinks of systemic discrimination.

“A person on an allowance who has not experienced discrimination can more easily engage in a conversation with a case manager to minimize their debt,” he said.

“This is where we see these biases at play.”

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the numbers were heartbreaking.

“It’s just scary, it’s really, really scary. The minister … we demand that she take charge of this and explain to those and the rest of Aotearoa what this government is going to do to ease this burden. of these whānau, off these wāhine and their tamariki, ”she declared.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said there has been a lot of work to reduce clients’ debt in a way they can afford.

She said that the Māori wāhine who received government support were better off under this government.

“On average they’re making around $ 175 a week now because of the changes we’ve made to the welfare system, due to the increases we’ve put in place, so we’ve made significant progress, but like I say , there is always more work to be done, ”she said.

She did not believe that prejudice was the cause of the higher weekly repayments for Maori and women, but rather that women were more likely to take out loans and that Maori were overrepresented in working-age benefits.

“I think the level of debt that different people take on in the system has a role to play with that, and so I think there are certainly some equity issues around income adequacy in our community. country in general and this is reflected in the welfare system. “

Brooke Pao Stanley said the amount people pay each week shouldn’t be swayed by how much they owe.

“People have a lot of debt because they need support, because the benefits are already so low. And so it has nothing to do with how much people owe, it has to do with the racism of the system. “

Menendez March said the payments should automatically be set as low as possible to improve fairness.

“The conversation should be less about how we make sure the recipient pays their debt as quickly as possible, and it should be more focused. [on] how we make sure we don’t get someone in trouble. “

In the end, the Greens, Te Pāti Māori and Auckland Action Against Poverty all wanted a debt amnesty to wipe the slate clean.

Sepuloni said an amnesty would require a change in the law and was not being considered.

RNZ


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