Cost of living crisis: Women turn to diet shakes to cut grocery bill

Cost of living crisis: Women turn to diet shakes to cut grocery bill

Written by Susan Edmonds

Nelson, New Zealand, July 19, 2018: Unidentified customers check merchandise sold in a supermarket.


Anahira, a mother of three and her husband, have turned to diet drinks to help lower their food bill, because, she says, they do not qualify for sufficient government support.

Her husband works 40 or 50 hours a week as a laborer, and earns about $1,000 a week after tax.

A married couple with children must earn no more than $969 a week between them, before taxes, to qualify for any job seekers support.

Anahir, who does not want to be identified, says she has always had mental health issues and is currently waiting for the ACC to agree to further counseling.

“But my mental health issues make it very difficult to function ‘normally’ every day, as well as I have psoriasis, arthritis and pain in most joints every day.

“All we are entitled to weekly is supplement accommodation. Our rent is $700 per week with $15 water on top because we can’t afford no credit because we can’t afford extra bills. According to work and income, my husband earns a lot from me so I get any kind of sickness benefits or any benefit.”

She said the social welfare system has not kept pace with the rising cost of living.

“Everything but our income is going up. We pick and choose between food and gasoline. We’ve just started our two-drink-a-day diet to lose weight and try to make groceries cheaper. As long as our kids have food, we’re fine, but it’s still tough.”

She said she was supposed to start a new job, but she couldn’t take a day off if one of the kids was sick, and the nursery fees made work difficult.

Another woman, Sarah, said she was surprised to find that her boyfriend’s income meant she couldn’t get help. She had just finished her postgraduate studies and was looking for work at the time. She and her partner lived with roommates.

“I desperately needed the money to make sure I could still pay the bills.

“The part that bothered me the most was that they hinted that if I broke up with my boyfriend I could come back the next day and get more money. We haven’t been out that long, not even one year—it was all sloppy.”

She said she considered herself financially independent from her partner at that point. “It’s hard to know where to draw the line, though. Is that after you’ve been with a partner for a certain amount of time? Is there a need for children to be involved? I think it’s probably more difficult for women, who generally earn less than Men “.

It’s something the Child Poverty Working Group spokeswoman, Associate Professor Susan St. John, has been concerned about for some time.

She said it was “painfully clear” that the social benefits system was no longer fit for purpose.

“The foundation of the relationship in welfare payments is in desperate need of updating,” she said when delivering the Sir Owen Woodhouse Memorial Lecture in 2019.

“Many do not receive benefits if the partner earns, and the rate of entitlement to the spouses is very low. Marital status as determined by work and income penalizes single parents who attempt to return the partner.”

St John said the issue is becoming clearer as people lose their jobs during the pandemic.

“Instead of reforming the welfare system, we get social insurance,” she said.

The government has proposed an income insurance scheme that pays 80 percent of an individual’s normal salary for up to six months if they lose their job.

“This would never make anyone currently disadvantaged any better,” said St. John. “It will only be implemented in the future when people will get a benefit under the scheme. Men in higher paying jobs will get the most.”

She said that expecting spouses to depend on each other was an outdated approach. “The kind of relationship where everything is shared – modern relationships just don’t go along with that.”

If the relationship test is used, she said, it should be whether the couple gets caught by the relationship ownership rules. This applies to people who are married or in a civil union, or who have lived together for three years.

“The tax system depends on the individual, as is the case with the ACC and NZ Super but with the welfare system, we are totally bound by the idea that you have to take care of each other and that your family is the one to turn to. There are a lot of things like that that are built into the system and we Totally blind to seeing prejudices… It’s 2022 but we’re still not really talking about family arrangements in the 21st century.”

The family is the support entitlement unit, a long-standing component of the system, said Polly Fowles, acting director general of the Social Welfare and Income Support System at the Ministry of Social Development.

“Family is defined as adults – either single or a married couple – and dependent children. This unit is used because it is generally accepted that families are financially interdependent – ​​who will share resources to support one another.

“Financial support in the care system targets those who need it most. For this reason, it makes sense to consider family resources to assess a person’s need for financial support from the state.

“Family income is different from household income – families may contain several families, and these families are generally not taken into account for financial support. If all social welfare financial support is allocated individually, it will result in many payments being made to higher income families and this It will significantly increase the overall cost of the social welfare system. The long-term comprehensive social welfare reform work program will take into account whether the benefit unit in the social welfare system is still fit for purpose.”

This story It was first published on Stuff.

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