Children in poverty cannot wait

Child Poverty Action Group says it is a tragedy for young children growing up in poverty today that the government will not take the steps needed to meet their urgent needs.

Official advice to Government from the Ministry of Social Development, available for the first time through an OIA request by Radio New Zealand, stated clearly that the government’s actions were unlikely to reduce child poverty "in the short- to medium-term", and that more investment was needed to improve family incomes.

"Recent experience with the Working for Families package has shown that it is possible to achieve significant direct reduction in poverty, but doing so requires significant additional investment."

CPAG says the government will not significantly reduce child poverty without raising the inadequate incomes of beneficiaries with children. Extending the In Work Tax Credit and other child payments to all low income children, without discrimination, is the most cost effective and immediate way to do this. The $25 benefit increase announced in the 2015 budget will help a little, but is nowhere near enough to reduce poverty for most families and does not come into effect for another nine months.

CPAG spokesperson Assoc. Professor Michael O’Brien says, "While the government has introduced some good programmes to address aspects of child poverty, tinkering around the edges will not achieve the significant reduction in child poverty we all wish to see."

Michael O’Brien says, "Poverty is more damaging for young children than for any other age group. The damage done to children living in poverty now will remain with them - and us - all their lives. New Zealand is failing to meet its obligations under UNCROC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) not just to protect children’s rights but to actively promote them by ensuring they have access to good health care, education and housing and are protected from harm."

CPAG believes that the government needs to spend $1 billion per annum on fixing Working for Families, to make it much fairer and more effective in addressing child poverty.