Petition calls for children to take first priority

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) supports a major online petition launched today by ActionStation, urging for the 2016 budget to put the needs of children before corporate interests. ActionStation has developed the campaign in collaboration with CPAG,UNICEFNZ Council of Christian Social Services, and Tick4Kids partners.

The campaign calls on all representatives in Parliament to take responsibility to break the cycle of poverty and: enable every child to get a good start in the early years by ensuring parents have all the resources they need (income, affordable housing, education, health), and to develop and implement a national strategy to ensure every child can access their rights to health, education, safety and participation (using a child-rights framework).

CPAG argues that given the will the money can be found to significantly change thousands of lives for the better. For example, ActionStation’s petition refers to a promised $11 billion of taxpayer money being allocated over the next 10 years to military procurements. If more than $1 billion can be found each year for the New Zealand Defence Force, then money can be found to put toward supporting children of low-income families, and enabling them to thrive.

CPAG housing and law spokesperson Frank Hogan says, "Our efforts as a nation to ensure our children flourish are failing efforts - indisputably our measures for assessing child poverty show the position has worsened in a generation. What has failed can be reversed by Government altering policy settings."

We continue to be non-judgemental in our social policy for the elderly, providing regular increases to New Zealand Superannuation to accommodate inflation. But we are highly targeted and judgemental toward caregivers and children. Nikki Turner, CPAG health spokesperson asks, "Why does New Zealand choose to do that when our kids are our richest resource?"

If all children are to have the opportunities they need to grow and thrive, Government must do far more than tinker around the edges of this problem. The most cost-effective way to boost family incomes is by removing unjust rules that bar the worst-off children from getting their full Working for Families (WFF) tax credits.

CPAG economics spokesperson Susan St John says, "New and significant spending is required to fix flawed policies that act to exclude the most needy children. We could relieve the worst child poverty significantly by simply joining the In-work tax credit to the Family tax credit. This would not only remove significant structural discrimination, which unfairly impacts on Maori and Pacific children, it would give a significant boost of at least $72.50 a week to the income of the most disadvantaged families. This would cost around $500 million."

ActionStation’s petition asks are aligned with CPAG’s Fix Working For Familiescampaign in which many other aspects of WFF are challenged. At least $1 billion needs to be spent to remove the flaws and make WFF a cost-effective measure to alleviate family poverty and bring it more in line with policies for those over 65.