Better policy would have protected New Zealand children from recession

Child Poverty Action Group says an international report released by UNICEF today shows good policy can protect and improve child well-being, even during a recession.

The report,Children of the Recession, says Australia's increase in spending on families during the global financial crisis had a more positive impact than the ambitious tax cuts implemented in New Zealand, where poverty and inequality stagnated.

Australia's child poverty rate dropped by around a third (6.27 percentage points) from 2008 to 2012 while New Zealand's remained virtually unchanged.Norway and Finland, states of a similar size to New Zealand but with already much lower child poverty, also reduced their child poverty rates by 4.30 and 3.20 points respectively.

CPAG says it is time New Zealand took a good look at Australian policies for families and children. The Australian tax credit system for children is much more inclusive and generous. As well the government there did not hesitate to support low income families with specific extra spending in the form of a generous single income family bonus and back to school bonus. 

Co-Convenor Janfrie Wakim says, "It is encouraging that the government acknowledges much more needs to be done to address child poverty.  New Zealand currently has very poorly designed policies for families and their children and we could do far, far better."

Janfrie Wakim says, "We need to make sure the safety net is resilient and will protect families from the next crisis.  Our tax credit system effectively punishes those low income families who lose work in a recession in the name of creating a 'work incentive'.  That is quite unacceptable."