Not the New Zealand we want

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) endorses the Government’s stated commitment to improve the lives of all vulnerable children. It has failed dismally with the 2016 Budget announcement today.

CPAG asked for meaningful policies for incomes in this budget but there is nothing in this budget for families with children. When so many New Zealand families are in crisis and children are bearing the brunt this budget does nothing. "All families need sufficient resources for their children to thrive," says Professor Innes Asher, CPAG health and housing spokesperson.

Children are mentioned in the context of there being 40,000 fewer living in benefit-dependent households. Social security spokesperson Mike O'Brien says, "This is meaningless when it appears so many more families are clearly needing food banks and other social services. Moreover the Government is not monitoring the children in families that are increasingly being sanctioned." 

The Prime Minster has claimed that this Government has maintained Working for Families. However the reality is that Working for Families continues to be undermined with progressive reductions that began in 2012. "Moreover there has been no adjustment for inflation for 4 years," says income spokesperson Susan St John. 

"A few families got an extra $12.50 a week and there was a few crumbs for those on benefits with children in last year’s budget. A large number of the worst-off families facing uncertain labour market and variable hours got absolutely nothing - not even an inflation adjustment. Changes set in motion in 2012 actually reduce payments for working families." 

We could compare this with policies in Australia: 

A sole parent in New Zealand with one child under five gets support from WFF to the tune of $92 a week, which is less than one half of that given in Australia ($186 a week). In Australia the threshold to which payments are made in full is adjusted annually and is now $51,000. Contrast this with New Zealand’s WFF threshold being adjusted down to $35,000 over time.

"There is no fundamental change to housing policy. The provision of 750 beds - or ‘places’ - represents an underwhelming response to the several thousand families languishing on the Priority A list - those with a persistent and severe housing need requiring an immediate response," says CPAG housing spokesperson Frank Hogan.

CPAG has prepared a brief summary of the 2016 budget and its implications for children and families.