We have completed a number of reports since our inception in 2010 including Youth, Social and Affordable Housing, Food & Waikato School Communities, Welfare Reform and Neglect and Nurture.
We are currently focusing our efforts on the Reality Check Campaign, debt and Mobile Retail Trucks, and food insecurity. We are also working on issues related to housing and we support the work of the Waikato Living Wage Network. Reducing the availability of alcohol is also one of the advocacy focuses.
All over the world Living Wage campaigns have a focus on public money. It’s important that public money is used ethically when funding public services and employing New Zealanders -this includes paying a Living Wage. The Living Wage Movement calls on:
-All publicly funded bodies to lead by example ensuring their employees are paid a Living Wage and incorporate the Living Wage and job security in their procurement policy and partnerships with social and environmental agencies
– Corporates and other ethical employers who can pay to lead the private sector by paying a Living Wage.
The Waikato Living Wage Aotearoa group was formed in May 2013 and held a successful first meeting attended by community groups, activists and faith groups. The first action of this group planned to lobby the Hamilton City Council (HCC) to pay a Living Wage to employees and influence contractors. Initially there was a sense of success, HCC voted to support the implementation and then a month later the vote was overturned. The meetings were well supported by the group via attendance, speakers and written submissions.
In 2014 three Waikato activists attended the Living Wage Aotearoa training.
It’s 2015 and the HCC have included the living wage as an unfunded project in the ten year plan. On May the 8th a small group met with HCC representatives to discuss solutions, explore the implications of an unfunded project and lobby the HCC to pay a living wage. The group included a new potential collaborator representing the Waikato Sustainable Business Network.
Recent Waikato Living Wage meetings have been attended by people representing or linked to Unions (NZEI, SFWU, First), Greens, Labour, Youth, & Poverty Action. It appears that there is a core group of activists keen to see WLWA keep moving forward.
Accredited Employers operating in the Waikato are: Methodist City Action, Young Workers Resource Centre, PSA, First Union, NZ Meatworkers, TEU, SFWU, EPMU, Unite, First Union, NZ Labour Party and Go Eco.
Please contact us if you would like more information about the Waikato Living Wage Network and latest developments.
Access to affordable housing that is effectively insulated and heated and is of adequate size has become compromised for many people living in the Waikato. High housing costs and poor quality housing are associated with overcrowding and a range of health difficulties such as asthma, rheumatic fever.
The National led government has taken a neoliberal, market based approach to housing, claiming that barriers to development, such as land availability, are one of the issues limiting the affordability of housing. Poverty Action recently made a submission on Hamilton City Council’s Special Housing Area Policy.
We are dismayed the Hamilton City Council has implemented a Special Housing Area Policy that includes no stipulation for the provision of affordable housing. The majority of submitters were in support of policy that required a certain proportion of the housing developed in a Special Housing Area to be affordable. We have asked Council staff to explain why they recommended to Councillors that they remove the housing affordability requirement from the policy. We have yet to receive an answer.
Here is some of what we wrote in our submission.
“Poverty Action Waikato would like to note concerns regarding market based approaches to addressing social issues that have largely resulted from the dominance of neoliberal, market based policies. These policies have contributed to rising inequality and dwindling social support. The continuation of neoliberal, market based policies cannot be expected to deliver a more equitable society that is accommodating and inclusive of all people.
Housing, under our current economic relations, is a commodity which is speculated on for the purpose of profit. With these current economic arrangements, the removal of planning constraints, allowing for a potential increase in property development will likely not have an impact on housing prices. Housing markets have not provided well for lower income communities.
We encourage the Council to advocate for and support the reinstatement of the provision of State owned, public housing. State housing provides a strong alternative to the private housing market, enabling the housing needs of those excluded and marginalised from the housing market to be met. The large scale building of State owned housing has the potential to drive down the prices of the housing market and result in greater housing affordability.
It is not clear whether the Housing Accord in Auckland has delivered an increase in affordable housing. We request that the Special Housing Area policy includes the monitoring of SHA development by Council to assess the extent to which affordable housing is enabled.”
The readily accessible supply of alcohol in our communities undermines the ability of people to make healthy choices both for themselves and their families. The uncertainties of income, work and relationships, make life very challenging for many people.