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“If The Minister really cared about children going without shoes in winter she would do far more than take her shoes off."

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has congratulated Paula Bennett on finally acknowledging New Zealand’s high rates of child poverty. But according to CPAG spokesperson Dr Claire Dale  “If The Minister really cared about children going without shoes in winter she would do far more than take her shoes off.  

”Feeling good about handing out a pair of shoes ignores the underlying reasons why children are going without shoes. 150,000 of New Zealand’s poorest families miss out on at least $60 a week under current policies. This discrimination is intolerable, and is undreamed of in countries like Australia. If going without shoes for a day is the boldest move Ms Bennett can make in her portfolio, then heaven help New Zealand’s children.”

$60 a week would allow parents to provide shoes for their children as well as feed and clothe them adequately.

Every winter, going without shoes and warm clothing has a serious impact on children’s health and their ability to participate in classroom activities. Inadequate footwear leads to hundreds of children being admitted to hospital every year with severe cuts or punctures. Footwear is fundamental to preventing illness and ensuring each child can participate across the wider range of activities and the school curriculum.

As a matter of urgency, the government should reconsider its family support policies so that all children in low-income households can have a chance of getting their own shoes instead of relying on charities. We should not have to endure the spectacle of politicians pretending they care.

New Zealand needs a systematic approach to acknowledging and resolving child poverty, not a single pair of shoes.