Labour’s welfare policies welcome but silence on children disappointing
The Child Poverty Action Group today warmly welcomed the Labour Party’s policies to reinstate the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA) for sole parents undertaking tertiary level study and to make part-time paid work more worthwhile for families on benefits - but warned that Labour’s pledges would not help many of the children in entrenched poverty.
"For years, CPAG has been calling for this policy on the TIA and for abatement thresholds to be raised significantly and then indexed to wages," says CPAG economist Susan St John. "So it’s good to see these vital and sensible policies announced today."
Parents are best-placed to make decisions for their own families, and CPAG believes the policies are likely to empower and increase the agency of those parents who are in a position to consider training or part-time work.
"But there should be no delay. The policies need to be implemented immediately as a response to the deepening recession," says St John. "Sometimes Labour announces social welfare policy nearly a year before it’s brought in. This cannot happen in this case; these employment-support measures must be brought in promptly, as was done with the wage subsidy and the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment."
However, CPAG warns that these pledges on their own will have zero effect on many children in entrenched poverty as paid work or study is not an option for all parents.
"These children and their families face a bleak future of toxic stress, food insecurity, ill health and poor housing," says St John. CPAG continues to call for all families receiving benefits to be made eligible for all family support tax credits so our poorest families would receive at least another $72.50 a week.
"On their own, the policies Labour announced today do not add up to the transformational change New Zealand requires to reverse its long-term abysmal international rankings on child wellbeing," says St John, referring to the recent Unicef Innocenti report card.
CPAG’s election priorities (including raising the abatement thresholds) are available from www.cpag.org.nz/resources/election-2020