Change NZ’s welfare system now - before this health crisis becomes a child poverty crisis
CPAG is calling on the Government to take a new approach to our income support system so the impacts of Covid-19 do not lead to an increase in child poverty.
As the Ministry of Social Development struggles to cope with unprecedented inquiries due to Covid-19, Child Poverty Action Group is calling for the Government to fix our broken welfare system and redesign it so all New Zealanders, but particularly our children, get the support they need during this crisis.
Georgie Craw, Executive Officer at Child Poverty Action Group, says CPAG believes a radical paradigm shift is needed in how we deliver our income support safety net, so all our children are raised in homes with sufficient resources.
"The unfairness and the irrationality of the welfare system are being exposed in this crisis," says Craw.
"If we want all our children to grow up to achieve their potential, then we need an income support system that works efficiently and effectively for all, at all times, including in crisis situations.
"It needs to be swift and simple to use, easy to administer and treat people with dignity, while being broad enough to help all those struggling with the impacts of Covid-19 to ride out the turmoil."
CPAG’s Social Security spokesperson Mike O’Brien says our current system is outdated, not fit for purpose and ill-equipped to support people through the kind of recession we will face as a result of Covid-19.
"A complete rethink is required," O’Brien says.
"Specifically, we should see benefit levels raised so they are adequate to live with dignity, entitlements are individualised, the In-Work-Tax-Credit discrimination is abolished, debt to MSD and debt collection should be stopped and sanctions removed."
Craw reiterates that keeping the current system will just move more children into poverty and make it harder for families to recover from this challenging time.
"We need to get rid of the punitive approach to social welfare and eliminate poverty traps in the system," she says.
"Instead we need to create a system that is designed to help people get what they need and trust them to make the choices about what’s right for their families."