Southland people are staunch and walk tall, but will struggle financially without speaking up, an Invercargill father says.
Invercargill residents Nathaniel and Kathrine Barrett, who work as chefs, are one of the reportedly increasing ‘middle-class poor’ families in Southland.
They are looking to relocate to Christchurch or Dunedin for better hours and pay.
Invercargill Salvation Army Invercargill Corps officer Annette Bray said the organisation was seeing a growing number of people coming to them for help.
“There’s a working class poor. More and more people are coming through.”
It could be that there were two family members working but together they didn’t have a full time job, Bray said.
“Twenty-five percent of people who come to us for help, somebody is working in the family.
“Probably in days gone by, if someone was working in the family they were doing pretty well. But these days it’s not enough.”
Nathaniel works about 20-25 hours a week, and Kathrine 30, but with restaurant clientele dwindling in the cold Invercargill winter they had fewer work hours.
In a typical week, Kathrine would earn about $400 and Nathaniel about $360.
Nathaniel said the Work and Income benefit had a $600 gross income cut-off point, which they earn above.
However, their weekly expenses topped $800.
They sometimes could not afford their state home rent and they and their daughters, aged 1 and 2, may have to move in with family.
Nathaniel and Kathrine seem a good family, and I am sure it is very tough for them with such a relatively low level of income. But the article (as the media often does) doesn’t reveal how much state support they currently get. It would be:
- Family Tax Credit $137/week
- In-work tax credit $72/week
- Childcare subsidy $500/week (if 50 hours used)
- State house subsidy: $215/week (average for all state houses, unable to calculate for their actual house)
So even without them qualifying for a benefit, they still get a considerable amount of support from taxpayers.