News

2015 Budget must ensure families have enough income to provide for children

The 2015 budget must address the issue of adequate income for families if the government is serious about reducing child poverty in New Zealand, says the Child Poverty Action Group.

CPAG will present its analysis of the budget at a series of post-budget breakfasts held in 5 centres throughout New Zealand on May 22nd.  The Wellington Budget Breakfast is held in partnership with the Wellington Public Health Association.

CPAG's budget analysis will focus on what the budget holds for children and families.  It is prepared by specialists from a range of disciplines, including education, health, economics, social services and housing.

The 2015 budget must address the issue of adequate income for families if the government is serious about reducing child poverty in New Zealand, says the Child Poverty Action Group.

CPAG economics spokesperson Susan St John says, "The government must focus on the causes of poverty, including inadequate family incomes. Anything less is just tinkering around the edges.  The current focus on vulnerable children is too narrow and ignores the social and economic conditions that create or worsen children's vulnerability."

Susan St John is concerned the government has weakened on its stated commitment to tackling child poverty.   "A comprehensive government plan is needed to reduce child poverty with targets, measurable outcomes and regular reporting requirements. The government cannot simply continue to cherry-pick policies which address a few of the consequences of poverty, while ignoring the elephant in the room - inadequate family incomes." 

CPAG spokesperson Innes Asher says, "Low income families simply do not have enough money to provide the basic necessities for their children.  260,000 New Zealand children (24% of all children) live below the 60% household income poverty after housing costs line and around 17% of all children miss out on many of their basic needs like a good bed, fresh fruit and vegetables, and basic clothing.  This has a major impact on these children's quality of life and has long term consequences for our society as a whole.

"We know many New Zealanders are concerned about child poverty and the growing inequality between the 'haves' and 'have-nots.'  This serious problem demands immediate attention in the 2015 budget. As a society, we could lift children out of poverty by improving housing and raising incomes for families on income support benefits and in low paid work. Evidence shows that parents would spend the extra money on their children, and that it would improve societal outcomes.  It is crucial that the government prioritises family incomes in the 2015 budget."

Recommendations: ensure income adequacy for low income families

  • Benefit levels must ensure an adequate income for families to meet their needs, and protect children from poverty and material hardship.
  • All children in low income families must receive full Working for Families tax credits.  
  • Low income families need protection against the gradual erosion of government support, through proper indexation of benefits and tax credits, in the same way as superannuation.
  • Full indexation of all aspects of family assistance is required, not only to protect against inflation but also to reflect a growing economy and higher wages.
  • The Accommodation Supplement must be reviewed as it is currently not adequate in areas with high rents.