Urgent action needed on children's health

Child Poverty Action Group calls on the government to put greater focus on families with children.

Child Poverty Action Group calls on the government to put greater focus on families with children.  New data from the New Zealand Children’s Social Health Monitor shows children’s hospital admission rates for preventable diseases has continued to increase and that hospital admissions in 2010 were almost 5,000 higher than in 2007.  These are largely children from low-income and Maori and Pasifika households; and are often children in households reliant on an income-tested benefit.

CPAG spokesperson Dr Mike O’Brien says that New Zealand is in grave danger of repeating the mistakes of the 1990s, and losing another generation of young people to poverty-related illness. He says that instead of planning to get parents into jobs that may not exist, the government must immediately increase the assistance it gives low income families so they can provide for children now.     

“These figures leave no doubt that once again New Zealand’s policy settings mean children in the poorest households are bearing the brunt of unemployment, high food prices, and damp and overcrowded housing. The high price of fruit and vegetables is of particular concern as these are absolutely vital for children’s health but are likely to be cut back as families try to economise. We are punishing these children for something they have no control over. We can and must act to start to reverse this trend.

“The statistics clearly show that the households with children that have the lowest incomes are sole parent beneficiaries. Once again we call on the government to extend the In-Work Tax Credit, which is a payment for children, to all families with children. This would provide an additional $60 per week or more, money that could go to buying food, warming the house, or paying medical expenses.

“These children clearly cannot wait until the economy improves. These families need help now,” said Dr O’Brien. 

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