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Clear data needed on impact of benefit sanctions on children

A lack of data on benefit sanctions means there is no way of knowing whether welfare reform is helping or harming children, says Child Poverty Action Group.

In its third policy monitoring report on the effect of sanctions on children, CPAG says the Ministry of Social Development is still providing only minimal information about benefit sanctions and calls on government to provide robust and transparent information about the number of children affected and the impact on their wellbeing.

Download the full report here: Benefit sanctions and children: an urgent need for greater clarity.

A lack of data on benefit sanctions means there is no way of knowing whether welfare reform is helping or harming children, says Child Poverty Action Group.

CPAG is calling on government to provide robust and transparent information about the number of children affected by benefit sanctions and other benefit cuts, and the impact of sanctions on children's wellbeing.

In its third policy monitoring report on the effect of sanctions on children, CPAG says the Ministry of Social Development is still providing only minimal information about benefit sanctions.

CPAG spokesperson Donna Wynd says, "The lack of data means the public has little idea of whether the government's "relentless focus on work" is actually improving outcomes for children, or protecting vulnerable children - something the government claims is a goal of welfare reform.  Living on a greatly reduced income, with benefits cut by half, has major consequences for children so it's critical to know the number of children affected by sanctions and for how long.   The public deserves to know the impact of pouring millions of dollars into reforming social assistance."

Wynd says better data is also needed about parents who have moved off a benefit to help assess if outcomes for their children have improved.

CPAG calls on the Ministry of Social Development to publish regular data on:

  • the number of sanctions imposed by grade of sanction;
  • the reason the sanction has been imposed;
  • the number of clients with children who have had their benefits suspended or cancelled;
  • how many children are affected by these suspensions and cancellations;
  • the length of time the suspension/cancellation was active (and the number of children affected);
  • a breakdown of these figures by age-group of the child, and region.
  • how many beneficiaries have left a benefit to go into paid work;
  • how many beneficiaries have moved back from paid work onto a benefit within 6 and 12 months.

Download the full report here: Benefit sanctions and children: an urgent need for greater clarity.