Kia ora koutou katoa, and welcome to Child Poverty Action Group’s first newsletter for 2020.
As we move out of lockdown, our thoughts continue to be with the children and families who are facing increasingly difficult choices how to provide for their needs due to inadequate income and benefit supports.
Over the last few months we have been incredibly busy watching and responding to the Government's policy announcements and strongly advocating for child-centred policies to unlock children from poverty.
As the Government itself stated in the recent budget, the numbers of children in material hardship are expected to sharply rise. We know this will damage not only children and families, but also the very fabric of New Zealand society in the generations to come. This can be avoided if the Government acts with the same compassion and decisiveness it demonstrated in its public health response to the pandemic.
Our hope and current focus is that we can convince the Government to use the considerable unallocated funds in Budget 2020 to address child poverty before the end of the year. Will you help us in our efforts to eliminate child poverty in New Zealand?
As always, thanks for everything you do.
Georgie, Justin, Caitlin and Carmelite.
Last week we broadcast our annual post-budget event From Lockdown to Unlocking Potential and the live Q&A online. Facilitated by award-winning documentary-maker Bryan Bruce, it includes contributions from Professor Susan St John, Dr Matire Harwood, Dr Andrea Black, and Professor Peter O'Connor.
We also analysed and produced a rapid, yet in-depth analysis of the implications of Budget 2020 for children and families in poverty. Our analysis, which notes both our disappointment and our hope, can be read here.
Although we are heartened by the extra investment in housing, health, environment and education, we are disappointed the Government did not take this opportunity to properly fix our broken social welfare system and unlock children from poverty.
As noted above, our focus now will move to strongly urging the Government to use the unallocated funds to systematically address child poverty in New Zealand and unlock healthy and happy childhoods for all.
Our response to the lockdown
During the lockdown we urged the Government to move hard and early to curb Covid-related poverty, change our welfare system before the health crisis becomes a poverty crisis, make their legacy a fairer society, and treat all people who are unemployed with dignity. We were also proud to be signatories to a Tick for Kids letter calling for greater visibility of children in the Government's response to Covid-19.
For Mother's Day, we worked with ActionStation on a video that gives thanks to all the amazing mums who do so much to make our world a better place. In particular, we acknowledged the mums on benefits and low wages who parent under incredibly difficult conditions during the lockdown. We are pleased this video has reached 52,000 people on our Facebook page alone.
Georgie also wrote a excellent blog highlighting the value of unpaid caregiving, and how so many will be finding this period even harder due to their precarious circumstances.
New resource: current statistics section on our website
We have added a new section to our website where we provide a round up of the most up-to-date statistics relating to child poverty in New Zealand.
In addition to how the Government is tracking to meet their Child Poverty Reduction Act targets, we also have commentary on declining benefit trends over time, MSD income support expenditure, social housing, debt to MSD, hospitalisation rates, and food parcels.
New research released shows inadequacy of benefits
We have recently released research, modelling the effect of latest policies for families accessing core benefits, accommodation supplement and Working for Families in 2020/2021. This paper, titled: "The effects of 2020-21 income support changes on After Housing Costs (AHC) incomes for representative households receiving benefits" examines if the Government's COVID-19 package is sufficient to lift families out of poverty who are currently receiving benefits.
As part of their findings, the researchers found that after paying lower-quartile rent for a two-bedroom house in a low-income Auckland suburb, a couple on the Jobseeker benefit with two children receiving core entitlements would still need around $195 extra a week to reach the 50 per cent AHC poverty line. And they would need $322 extra a week to reach the 60 per cent AHC line - a supplementary Government child poverty measure.
Recent press releases
Recent media appearances
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