Families have fewer choices than the PM thinks

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has challenged the Prime Minister John Key’s statement in parliament that “it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice.”

In response to a question about the increase in the number of families seeking budgeting advice, Mr Key said that families were making poor choices, and could get by if they budgeted properly.

“This suggests that all families are incapable of budgeting and implies they are choosing to waste their money on luxuries. But behind these so-called “choices” are thousands of families trying to give their children the best start in life despite low incomes and meagre benefits. These families don’t have many choices at all. Families are facing high housing costs, increasing debt and high unemployment. While these costs are high, none are higher than the present and future cost on our children’s health and wellbeing.” Said Donna Wynd, spokesperson for CPAG.

The recent increase in milk prices has put a food staple out of the range of families on low incomes.  CPAG supports the recent call by the head of Manaia PHO, Chris Farrelly, to see milk as an essential food item for children’s health lower the domestic price accordingly.

Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party have all called for government to address child poverty. CPAG says it is time for the Prime Minister to stand up for children and stop blaming the effects of the recession on parents.