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Legacy of Govt response should be fairer society not fiscal ill-discipline

As we move out of level 4 lockdown, Child Poverty Action Group is calling on the Government to make sure the legacy of this crisis is not one of massive public indebtedness due to wasteful and poorly targeted measures.

Instead CPAG believes this Government has an opportunity in this upcoming Budget to implement cost-effective measures that will forge a fairer society where all our children are able to thrive.

CPAG executive officer Georgie Craw says: "New Zealanders have shown incredible discipline during this lockdown to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

"However as we begin to consider how we recover from this period of lockdown and the global impacts of Covid-19, we need the same level of discipline to support structures and services that protect those most at risk in the serious economic downturn we are facing."

CPAG economic spokesperson Susan St John says a number of the Government’s initial responses should be urgently revised.

"The partial extension of the In Work Tax-Credit is an example of a poorly-designed policy in need of urgent scrutiny. It is time to remove all the out-dated rules around paid work so that all low income families receive the full Working for Families payment for their children. The cost of around $450 million would be well-targeted and help reduce the escalating demands at foodbanks."

New Zealanders currently accessing benefits and assistance are falling through the cracks due to poorly designed policies, she says.

"Any fiscal waste is to be avoided given the huge challenge to the Government’s budget in the post-lockdown world. Yet, the enhanced Winter Energy Payment, is poorly targeted and will be spread too thin, going to many older people who simply don’t need it and haven’t asked for it." St John says.

CPAG is also concerned that the modest $25 increase in weekly core benefits is unlikely to have the impact required, due to the existing inadequacies of benefit rates and the arbitrary rules governing them.

"This is the very best time to reshape New Zealand’s support systems to curb further widening of the existing inequalities." says Craw.

"If our children are to grow up in a country that cherishes them and wants to see them unlock their fullest potential, we need to be prepared to show the same courage we have during this lockdown and step up for our tamariki’s long term wellbeing " she says.

  • CPAG will hold a Post-Budget Brunch event online on May 15, providing expert commentary on whether this Government has delivered on a budget that can give our children what they need to be the best they can be. To register for this event go to: https://www.cpag.org.nz/the-latest/upcoming-events/