26 May 2017

Budget boost only a 'slight change' for the struggling

8:21 am on 26 May 2017

A single mother on a minimum wage who lives in a state house in Auckland says changes announced in yesterday's budget would only make a small difference to her life.

Tutu Maru Wichman works full time on minimum wage. She dreams of one day owning her own home, but on her current income that is not possible. She doesn't see today's budget announcement as changing anything significant enough for her to make that dream any more likely to come true.

Tutu Maru Wichman said yesterday's budget announcement would not change anything significant for her. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Tutu Maru-Wichman lives in Mangere with two of her five children.

A full-time glasshouse worker, she pockets about $560 a week and pays $149 rent to Housing NZ.

She said she cannot afford a car, to heat the house or buy clothes for her teenage children. Some weeks the family ate canned food left over from previous weeks because she had bills to pay.

Under changes to the tax threshold and Working for Families in the new Budget, she worked out she would bring home an extra $28.50 a week, $1,480 a year.

Tutu Maru Wichman (far right) with her son Timoteo,14 (far back left), and three of her grandchildren, Tekura, 4 (front left), Tewhareto, 7 (centre), and Mereana, 5 (centre right).

Ms Wichman with her son Timoteo,14, and and three of her grandchildren, Tekura, 4, front left, Tewhareto, 7, and Mereana, 5. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

She said living in Auckland was "very expensive" and the extra money would make a "slight change" to her life.

"It's not much. Thank goodness bread costs a dollar," she said.

Some weeks she was able to set aside $10 or $20 and she would buy cans of food to store in the cupboard.

"When you need it and there's no money there's always food there," she said.

"What would really make a big difference is if you're looking at $50 (extra a week) and up ... huge difference."

She said she hoped one day to own her own home in Mangere, where she grew up, but she could not save anything on her current wage.

"No way. I can only look for a new job or otherwise push for companies - and there's a lot in South Auckland ... pushing for something better than the minimum wage," she said.

A living wage would make the biggest difference to her life, she said. It would take her hourly pay from the minimum rate of $15.75 to more than $20 an hour.

Fresh groceries sit on the kitchen table of a low income family's home.

Fresh groceries sit on Ms Wichman's kitchen table. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

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