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Bold policies needed to tackle child poverty

Child Poverty Action Group applauds the Salvation Army’s strong message to political parties in election year that New Zealand must tackle the root causes of child poverty with bold policies.

Child Poverty Action Group applauds the Salvation Army’s strong message to political parties in election year that New Zealand must tackle the root causes of child poverty with bold policies.

In its 7th State of the Nation report “Striking the Balance”, released today, the Salvation Army provides a snapshot of New Zealand’s social progress over the last five years.

While there has been welcome improvement on some of the indicators monitored, sadly child poverty receives another ‘D’.  The report says there has been virtually no effort to address the underlying causes of poverty, despite increased political and media attention about the issue.

CPAG shares the Salvation Army’s deep concern that little of significance has been done to reduce child poverty in the past 5 years and that the broad-based political will necessary to effect change is lacking.

Spokesperson Associate Professor Mike O’Brien says, “Too many New Zealand children are spending their lives limited by poverty and carry the harmful effects into adulthood.  We need bold, comprehensive and urgent action to address this ticking time-bomb.”  

Housing availability also receives a “D” rating in the Salvation Army’s report.  This is extremely worrying, says O’Brien.  “Child poverty and housing are inextricably linked.  Families with children need warm, dry, affordable housing.”

The report shows Government’s spending on income support for families under ‘Working for Families’ has fallen 15% over the past 5 years. 

“This has significant consequences for children in families receiving this assistance,” says O’Brien.   “Poorly designed children's income support is a major factor perpetuating child poverty.  Removing the discrimination of the In Work Tax Credit would significantly reduce poverty.

“CPAG urges the government and all political parties to prioritise children and introduce with urgency policies and programmes that tackle the underlying causes of child poverty.”