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Our debt society and child poverty

Many Kiwi families have nothing in reserve - they don't have savings or families who can help out. When they face additional expenses, such as the washing machine breaking down, they are forced to borrow from a third-tier or fringe lender at high interest rates that trap them in a spiral of debt.

To access the full paper click here: the impact of high-interest debt on children 

Child Poverty Action Group says problem debt takes a heavy toll on children and New Zealand's consumer credit framework does not protect their interests.

Many Kiwi families have nothing in reserve. Dr M. Claire Dale of Child Poverty Action Group says, "Many low income families don't have savings or families who can help out. When they face additional expenses, such as the washing machine breaking down, they are forced to borrow from a third-tier or fringe lender at high interest rates that trap them in a spiral of debt."

"When this happens, families struggle to pay for basic food, healthcare and school costs as they are squeezed by debt servicing and repayments. They may need to accept sub-standard and crowded housing conditions and move often, which affects children's health and education."

Dr Dale says, "New Zealand needs to develop a legal and policy framework for credit that is consumer-oriented and founded on human rights and social justice. In the interests of children, CPAG urges the government to introduce a cap on interest rates (Australia's cap is 48%). We would also like to see partnerships between government, bank, and non-government organisations to promote financial inclusion with qualified access to low and no interest loans."

CPAG says the government must also repeal the benefit sanctions legislation which is propelling families that are barely coping into a whirlpool of misery and escalating debt.

To access the full paper click here: the impact of high-interest debt on children 

Background information:

Dr Dale's concern about problem debt and its impact on children motivated her to establish the Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust in 2010 with the NZ Council of Christian Social Services and NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services, and with Kiwibank as mentor and provider of loan capital.  In 2013 Nga Tangata and Kiwibank won the Supreme award at the NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards.

8 March 2014: Counting the cost of loan sharks, Tess McClure, Stuff.co.nz

August 2013: Mitigating poverty with microcredit, Office of the Children's Commissioner

 

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