Outgoing Children’s Commissioner says we must do more

Child Poverty Action Group welcomes Judge Andrew Becroft’s impassioned speech yesterday in which he calls for a Michael Joseph  Savage approach to eliminate child poverty.  CPAG has appreciated his efforts to engage on all the complex dimension of Child Poverty.

“Judge Andrew Becroft has made a major contribution in his five year term by profiling the huge problems poor children face in Aotearoa and by being willing to speak out strongly," says CPAG founding member and Associate Professor Susan St John. 

CPAG agrees when he says it is a choice - we have chosen to do well for those over 65. It is a choice that we do far less well for children. We are outliers internationally in the large gap between how we treat the old and the young.

The figures for material hardship as Judge Andrew Becroft showed are particularly shocking for Pasifika, (26.1%) Māori (19.5%) and where there is a disabled family member (20.4%).

Judge Becroft says “we must be uncompromising in our absolute opposition to child poverty in any form … Covid is not an excuse for doing less, in fact a reason for doing more”.

A question put to him at the conclusion of his speech asked “Should beneficiary families get less income support for their children to provide a work incentive for their parents? Currently they get at least $72.50 less in Working for Families.“ CPAG applauds the resounding NO from Judge Becroft.

Working for Families is needed to relieve child poverty. The loss of a significant part of this payment just because a family has to be on a benefit (and therefore judged in need of a work incentive) is particularly incongruent in the time of COVID. CPAG says the use of a child-related payment to incentivise paid work is obscene and totally unjustified at any time. Children's needs must be at the centre of all policies affecting them.

Judge Becroft calls for bold action. “For example, the full WFF could be made available immediately to all low income families, says Assoc Prof St John. Current policies are both racist and sexist.  At an annual cost of $500m, Māori Pasifika and disabled families would be significantly helped as would sole parents who are predominantly female."