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Evidence based solutions ignored as children miss out on the basics

Child Poverty Action Group says continued rises in rates of child poverty show the government's piecemeal and ad hoc measures on child poverty are inadequate.

CPAG welcomed the release of the 2015 Child Poverty Monitor by the Office of the Children's Commissioner, and urges the government to get back to basics by making sure all children have what they need to thrive right now.

The Child Poverty Monitor shows: Child poverty is now significantly worse

than the 1980s. In 1985 the percentage of children in families experiencing relative after housing costs income poverty was 15%. Now it is 29%.

Spokesperson Assoc Prof Michael O'Brien said, "The Government's narrow emphasis on vulnerable children lacks evidence of success.  By focusing on only the most vulnerable children in immediate and desperate need in the pursuit of future fiscal improvements it ignores the larger, preventative role."

O'Brien said, "New Zealand has the power to change the dreadful statistics revealed by this report right now, with committed leadership.  Children are far more likely to experience poverty than retired people.  We have excellent policies in place to support older people and could do the same for children."

Spokesperson Dr Nikki Turner said, "Benefit incomes are clearly not enough for the poorest families to meet their children's basic needs.  While the tiny benefit increase announced in the 2015 budget signalled a change in direction by the government and is welcomed, it will have negligible impact given the severity and persistence of poverty."

Other 'working' families may be given a boost in 2016 from small increases to the work-related tax credits for children but the government has also set in place progressive cuts to Working for Families for many of the very same low income families.  

"The fact that struggling families have had to wait a year even for this minor assistance shows a lack of understanding about the impact of poverty on children as they develop.  While the government focuses on a narrow, targeted investment approach, far too many children are missing out on the basics they need to thrive, at great personal cost to them and the nation, said Dr Turner.

There are a range of small initiatives in place and planned. But without a comprehensive multipronged approach requiring sustained investment and cross party support, we will continue to see rates of child poverty increase. That is neither fair nor just for our children.