Duncan Garner: Salvation Army's latest report shows Government failing New Zealand's poorest

OPINION: Has this Government lifted the poorest New Zealanders out of poverty? You know, those at the very bottom.

Well, based on what the Salvation Army said in Wednesday morning's State of the Nation, then the answer is a firm 'no'.

You may recall this is the Prime Minister's major goal, somewhat her reason for being, reducing poverty, reducing child poverty.

Of course, it's hard to measure, but the Sallies are a good place to start. They would know.

We are talking about those families living in entrenched poverty.

For them, nothing has changed.

So let me quote the Sallies: "Poverty at the most disadvantaged levels of our community remains stubborn."

"The proportion of children in deepest poverty... those living in households with the lowest incomes has not decreased over the past 10 years."

It certainly feels like that to me.

Smiling sentiment, but smiling politicians do not pay the bills.

Some good news though is poverty reducing overall.

Perhaps, maybe, Government action has delivered limited improvements.

But it all depends on what you focus on and what you take from their report. 

I expect the huge increase in the minimum wage to help, but that's from April 1 this year, and benefits for 340,000 people from the same date will be linked to wage growth, not inflation which has been low. It's seen beneficiaries fall further behind working New Zealanders.

By linking benefits to wage growth, beneficiaries will see their weekly incomes rise by up to $47 a week by 2023. 

This Government could increase basic benefit levels, but it won't. It's too scared voters will kick their backsides out of office. 

So much for their commitment to the poor. Power first thanks.

But I don't believe Government's alone can actually break poverty traps. They can help set the conditions, but only families and individuals can do this.

If you think it's the Government's job. you're deluded.

If you're relying on the Government for your sole income, you'll be in poverty forever. 

Break the cycle. It takes one person in a family to be the leader. To get that education. To get that first job. To step up.

Is that you? If not, who is it going to be?

Duncan Garner hosts The AM Show.