Political football should not be played with poverty and family welfare

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says that the National Party’s welfare proposals to cut gang members’ benefits perpetuate damaging and discriminatory stereotypes about both welfare recipients and gangs.

“We agree with Auckland Action Against Poverty’s statement that the National Party’s proposal will do nothing to reduce poverty or violence,”  says Associate Professor Susan St John, CPAG's economics advisor. “These ideas don't equate to ‘welfare reform’ in any sense. Discrimination by Work and Income on grounds of gang affiliation is likely to be very harmful to whānau who may be most in need of support.”

Work and Income case workers need to be concentrating on their main role of making sure that families and their children can thrive. 

“All children and families should all have the opportunity to do well in life, and that means ensuring adequate non-judgmental support when they need it," says St John. 

But this outcome is a long way from being achieved with current policy, especially as hardship builds up for low-income families this side of Christmas. 

"Instead of National’s punitive ideas, we should be hearing plans from the Labour-coalition Government to provide emergency relief for those families experiencing deep and enduring poverty," says St John. 

“It will be a great pity if promises to reduce welfare from National, and promises to increase welfare from Labour become a major election issue.” 

CPAG calls on the Government to act now by implementing the urgent and critical changes that are desperately needed, and show they are serious about making New Zealand the best place to be a child - so that each and every one can have the best chance at a good future.