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PM hits back against claims Budget leaves vulnerable out in the cold

Published: 6:16AM Friday May 16, 2014 Source: ONE News

The Prime Minister says claims by anti-poverty activists that the Government's new budget is just a "family bribe" in election year are "fundamentally not true".

Police had to intervene after a dramatic protest broke out outside Auckland's Sky City where John Key delivered his post Budget speech earlier today.

Demonstrators shouted "stop the war on the poor" as they tried to enter the convention centre, challenging Finance Minister Bill English's Budget, which revealed a $372 million surplus, free doctors' visits and prescriptions for under 13s, an extension to paid parental leave and a boost to the parental tax credit.

Auckland Action Against Poverty says "true to form" beneficiaries are being excluded from new benefits including the parental tax credit and that after five years of "social havoc" they've been left with little reward.

"We work with people every day who face the choice between feeding the kids or paying the power bill," says spokesperson Alastair Russell.

"This Budget provides very little meaningful relief for those at the very bottom."

However, Mr Key says that the Government hasn't blinked once when it's come to supporting the country's most vulnerable citizens.

"This is a government that in the worst of times borrowed billions and billions of dollars a year to pay for Working for Families, pensions and accommodation supplements," he says.

Mr Key claims that the most help the Government can be to these people are to help them into work, something he said that National has made allowances for in the Budget.

Pay strike

Meanwhile, around 50 workers from the Ministry of the Environment marched on Parliament today.

The Public Service Association workers say the reserve of funds is "rubbing salt in the wound" after being offered a pay increase of only half a per cent.

"There's issues in the way we get paid, the surplus isn't coming into our wages, we're giving a lot but we're not actually getting anything in return," says Ministry senior analyst Yvonne Weever.

However, Mr English had previously said that he wouldn't be surprised if there was some "tension" from people who believed that posting a surplus would mean "lifting the lid" on funding.

He says that Government departments will just have to be more efficient.