“It’s an insult to middle New Zealanders who are working hard to get ahead but being squeezed in every direction to increase benefits today,” says ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“The Government is making it harder to employ people and easier not to work with its ideological policies.

“Middle New Zealanders work hard but they’re also taxed hard. This increase isn’t fair to them.

“Since COVID-19, we’ve watched as fruit rotted on the ground because there weren’t the workers to pick it.

“This is all on top of businesses dealing with the minimum wage going up considerably, so-called ‘fair pay agreements’, watering down 90-day trials, increased sick leave and another public holiday.

“Actions have consequences. If you keep socking it to hardworking taxpayers you’ll get less of them. If you keep handing cash to beneficiaries, you’ll get more.

“There are too many children growing up without the positive example of a parent in work and too many adults suffer from chronic welfare dependency. The Government is showing no signs that it wants to change that.

ACT has positive plans to use welfare as a hand up. The Government has an opportunity to make people’s lives better but it seems more interested in keeping families in a cycle of dependency.”