Articles 2006 and earlier
As well as producing high quality independant research, CPAG provides shorter peices of commentary on issues related to child poverty. Many of these are also published in print media and online.
The Economic Living Standards Index (ELSI) for 2004 should be New Zealand’s ‘shock horror’ wake-up call. Forget about ‘social inclusion’ and ‘opportunities for all’. Such Third Way rhetoric is a hollow reminder of all the good Labour promised but failed to deliver. It expected that the rising tide of economic prosperity would lift all boats. Instead, more families are sinking without a life raft.
Recent studies show that poverty and poor health outcomes are clearly correlated. Without sustained intervention and prioritising the goal of reducing child poverty over work incentives, children unfortunate enough to be in benefit dependent families will continue to experience poor health outcomes, higher morbidity, lower life expectancy, more school transience and poorer educational achievement. While recent improvements in family income support measures will have a real impact on the working poor, stigmatising and excluding those on benefits cannot be in the long-term interests of society.
A bill the poor will pay for (2006)
Work, work and more work: what ever happened to social security? Most people don't know it, but social security is undergoing significant changes. These could affect any of us, if we were suddenly to become sick or disabled, a sole parent, or if the economy was to force employers to shed large numbers of employees.
While lower fuel costs are welcome, increases in other household costs are likely to cancel any benefits that might accrue to low wage and beneficiary households whose incomes are rising only slowly, if at all. Perhaps this explains why our foodbanks continue to do such good business. Beneficiary and low income households are due to get another $10 per child per week on 1st April this year. This will help recover some of the lost ground but won’t make much of a dent in child poverty.
Children fall by the wayside (2006)
The report from Unicef on child wellbeing in rich countries tells an old story - a story of damage from decades of neglect of New Zealand's youngest citizens. International comparisons are useful contributions to a debate about the status of our children. The report makes two crucial points. First, there is no obvious relationship between gross domestic product - relative to population - and child wellbeing. Second, countries poorer than our own do better by their children.
It was a shock that it was a Labour Government that axed Special Benefit – New Zealand’s backstop welfare safety net. Labour, with strong community support, fought the then National Government’s attempt to do this in 1994. In the 1990s Labour recognised the crucial role Special Benefit played in the welfare system. Now, by stealth Labour too has begun to attack New Zealand’s poorest families, and has instituted fundamental welfare reform with no public debate.
Child Poverty Worsens (2006)
After years of neglect the 2004 Working for Families budget promising over an extra billion dollars a year by 2007 sounded like very good news for low income families. And so it was, except that the poorest children were largely left out. More was to come in the pre-election spend-up that sees a further $500m for low-income families, but shockingly the cupboard is once more bare for the poorest children in beneficiary families.
The universal principle is firmly in place for those over 65. Why should New Zealand treat the young so differently?
Until recently children had been ignored by macro-economic policymakers for 25 years, despite bearing the brunt of those policies. They and their caregivers - mostly women - were disproportionately affected by policies which dictated self-reliance and independence from the state as primary virtues.