News

A more supportive welfare system will benefit the whole nation

It is widely acknowledged that there are inadequacies in the current design of the Welfare System in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Welfare payment levels and tax credits are too low to adequately support low-income families. Policy changes over the past three decades have seen benefits subjected to outright cuts, and tax credits reduce in real value. While recent changes have been helpful for some, we need to see more meaningful developments so that the needs of all 21st century families can be met adequately.

On 12 September 2018, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is hosting its Summit 2018 - Rethinking the Welfare System for the 21st Century. The day-long event, taking place at the University of Otago, Wellington, features experts in a range of disciplines who will discuss critical solutions toward improving the welfare system.

“We aim to not only increase awareness among the public, politicians and policy makers of the chronic problems across the welfare system, but also to discuss realistic ways to improve that system. A better welfare system is fundamental to improving the chances of good outcomes for New Zealand families and to tackling child poverty,” says Lisa Woods, co-ordinator of CPAG Wellington, and Summit organiser.

“All of us benefit from a well-designed social security system.”

CPAG says that a persistent and damaging focus on paid work has been given priority over ensuring the best outcomes for all children. Those who are worst-off, in terms of income poverty, experience unjust discrimination, while every day thousands of parents resort to taking on high-interest debts just to meet their families’ basic needs, or turn to charity for support.

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw, a key speaker at the Summit, says, “While child poverty is on the political radar, change is happening at a painfully slow rate, and is yet to tackle the structural causes.

“Why are we stalling when we have an abundance of research and evidence about what works? There is a disconnect between the models or narratives people use to understand poverty and the information provided by experts and those with lived experience. These make it hard for people to see the relevance of the solutions. It's clear we need to change the story of child poverty if we're finally going to get the solutions that will make a meaningful difference accepted.”

Ms Woods says, “In 2018 we have a unique opportunity to encourage Government to act on its stated vision for ‘a welfare system that ensures people have an adequate income and standard of living, are treated with and can live in dignity and are able to participate meaningfully in their communities’.”

To hear more from experts about changes that will ensure that Aotearoa-New Zealand has a Welfare System that is fit for families and for children and their unique needs, come along to CPAG’s Summit 2018 - Rethinking the Welfare System for the 21st Century.

For more information about the event, which is supported by the University of Otago (Wellington), visit CPAG's website, or download the programme here.

Follow this link to register for the event.