CPAG says Working for Families must be fixed

Child Poverty Action Group's (CPAG) recommendations for a more robust and inclusive Working for Families package will go a long way towards alleviating hardship among New Zealand's most needy families - if they are implemented.

CPAG is entering the second phase of its campaign to Fix Working for Families (#FWFF). 

The FWFF campaign was launched on April 1 to coincide with the $25 increase in welfare benefits and the $12.50 increase to the Working for Families (WFF) In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC). CPAG noted with alarm how the increases did not go nearly far enough, and that only the discriminatory part of WFF was increased.

The first stage of CPAG’s campaign argued that WFF fails to provide adequate support for beneficiary families and other low-income families who do not meet the hours of work requirement. The children in these families do not benefit from the IWTC, a payment to assist with the costs of children, worth at least $72.50 per week.

CPAG urged the abolition of the IWTC and the addition of $72.50 to the first child Family Tax Credit. This is the most cost-effective policy available for reducing income-based measures of child poverty. 

The second phase of the campaign shows how WFF is failing not only families who miss out on the IWTC, but also families in low-paid work who are entitled to the full package. Over time, the Government is lowering the threshold for full WFF eligibility, increasing the abatement rate, and failing to index the payments properly. This slow erosion of entitlements is contributing directly to the increasing hardship of ‘working’ families. 

Too many New Zealand parents are struggling to support their children on incomes that after paying rent do not cover the basic necessities. Families who have been forced to live in cars and garages must be first assisted into stable housing, but their incomes must also be protected and enhanced. 

Fixing Working for Families will make a difference.