Government report shows children made to suffer unnecessarily

Grim reading: that’s the Child Poverty Action Group’s assessment of the Child Poverty Related Indicators Report released today by the Government.

"The report shows our children are suffering unnecessarily. Polling shows our communities care and want the Government to ensure families have liveable incomes - and that is an obvious, immediate step to stop many of these issues," says Professor Emeritus Innes Asher, CPAG spokesperson and Welfare Expert Advisory Group member.

"When one out of five children don’t have enough food to eat in Aotearoa New Zealand, that’s a chronic, mass emergency. It’s politically-created distress."

Due to systemic discrimination, whānau Māori, Pacific families and families with disabled members are more likely than others to be facing the toxic stress of poverty. Nearly half of Pacific children experience food insecurity, due to low incomes.

"That is an upsetting reality. These are urgent issues - children cannot wait - and the Government is moving too slowly. Small steps are not enough," says Prof Asher. "The Ka Ora Ka Ako food in schools programme will assist - and it’s a good policy - but it is not a magic bullet and doesn’t reach all hungry children throughout the year. Families simply need much more money to cover their essential costs."

The report shows many children and their families are experiencing damp unhealthy homes, food insecurity, and increasing housing cost stress. A third of families in social and state housing report damp, cold homes.

"The report is mostly using pre-Covid data," says Prof Asher. "We know that, due to government neglect, Covid-19 hit families in poverty harder than others. We need to see urgent, robust measures such as liveable incomes, so we can all be secure in the knowledge we are supporting families, not making their lives impossible."