September 2020 Newsletter
Welcome to Child Poverty Action Group's September newsletter for 2020. He kai tahu me kikini, he kai tahu me tīhore, mā te tamaiti te iho.
Child wellbeing is emerging as the key issue for this election: last week alone, CPAG research showed core benefit entitlements for children are deeply inadequate (in July we showed an extra 70,000 children are at risk of poverty due to COVID if policy doesn't change); Unicef put New Zealand near the bottom of new rankings for child wellbeing; and the University of Auckland highlighted deprivation as a key driver for youth mental distress which doubled in ten years to 2019.
To make a real difference for our tamariki and children, we need transformational change. Will you help us advocate for these changes? If half of our supporters gave $5 a fortnight we would have enough to meet all of our operational expenses for the whole year. You can donate here.
CPAG's election priorities offer a blueprint for the type of changes needed in income support, housing and health. Adequate incomes; respectful support (whakamana tāngata); accelerating state-house building; rebalancing property investment incentives; and ACC-level support for all children with accident-unrelated health conditions or disabilities - these policies are only the start. Once all parties share their welfare and housing policies, we plan to analyse them - watch this space!
We already hosted one candidates debate, we are co-hosting two more in Wellington, on 16 Sept (on equity) and 30 Sept (on wellbeing & health), and welcome to our newest members: a Western Bay of Plenty CPAG branch will be launched at a SociaLink Tauranga candidates event on 1 October. For a list of important questions for candidates thanks to Wellington CPAG, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, exciting changes are afoot at CPAG. This is my last newsletter as Executive Officer before I leave to have a baby. It has been an immense privilege to work with so many wonderful people dedicated to creating a fairer, more equitable future. However, it's not goodbye: I am delighted I can continue to work for CPAG on a part-time basis on special projects.
I am equally pleased to introduce CPAG's new Executive Director, Laura Bond, who will be taking over the helm on 10 September. Laura comes to us with strong experience in the NGO sector, impressive advocacy and communication skills, and a commitment to improving social justice and environmental issues in Aotearoa. We have no doubt that Laura will do great things at CPAG.
We've also welcomed Janet McAllister into the new role of Research and Communications Officer. Janet's an ex-journalist & policy analyst who has been involved with CPAG as a researcher and volunteer for many years, and we are extremely lucky to have her (plus her great intellect and energy) come on board at this time. Janet says she is "thrilled to be enhancing CPAG's contributions to public conversations about the need to cherish our children instead of burdening them". Haere mai Janet and Laura!
Mauri ora, Georgie Craw and the rest of the CPAG team.
Urgent call to Govt: don't let the lowest-income families lose $63pw
Last week we released research which shows core entitlements for most families on benefits are below the government's main poverty line and are set to dive even further when the Winter Energy Payment ends on 1 October. Once this happens, these whanau will be a further $63 a week worse off.
Auckland Action Against Poverty joined us in urging the Government to extend the Winter Energy Payment until long-promised welfare reform, and to support families on benefits with the Working for Families in-work tax credit (as CPAG's Janet McAllister discussed with a well-prepped John Campbell on Breakfast). As RNZ reported, Prof Cindy Kiro, Chair of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, supports our call for increased incomes.
On the last day of sitting for this term, Green party co-leader Marama Davidson raised the issue in the House (Question 2), but Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni refused to extend the Winter Energy Payment period. As the number of children relying on benefits grows due to COVID, CPAG will continue to push for much-needed income increases.
CPAG hosts lively political panelOur July AGM marked the end of a successful 2019/20 year, as evidenced by our annual report. Afterward, we were joined by Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni (Labour Party), Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere, TOP co-leader Shai Navot and NZ First candidate Robert Gore for a hearty discussion on policies to reduce child poverty. You can view this online here (starts 3 min in) and as attendee and NZ Herald columnist Simon Wilson put it (paywalled) "The room was full of people who've spent their lives fighting poverty, as activists, service providers, advocates, researchers, carers". Well-deserved respect and thanks to all of you who came along! Our election priorities are here.
CPAG presents at Alternative Aotearoa Symposium
"I am angry and grumpy" - CPAG economist Susan St John gave an immensely quotable, in-depth tour of why she has cause to be cross (exhibit A: the government's WEAG report burial) at the Alternative Aotearoa symposium in July, while CPAG housing spokesperson Frank Hogan talked about why state house building must accelerate.
CPAG calls for more support for community-led ECE
In July we released new research supporting the call for more government support of community-led Early Childhood Education which can mitigate challenges of intergenerational poverty. Our key points op-ed highlights that community-based, not-for-profit centres provide better care for children on average than the poor-quality environments more prevalent in for-profit, privately-owned centres. CPAG researcher Caitlin Neuwelt-Kearns did a superb job of discussing possible ECE nationalisation on Breakfast.
CPAG welcomes new tenancy protection
In August we welcomed the passing of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2020, as it will increase security of tenure for children, and help enhance housing quality. Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing), Kris Faafoi, acknowledged the need for renters to feel safe and certain. Notable changes include removing "no cause" 90-day termination notices and requiring landlords to provide reasons as to termination. Other changes also include the ability to child-proof.
CPAG in the news
Sep 04 | CPAG disappointed with Government's refusal to extend crisis support
Sep 02 | The call to extend COVID-19 related support for financially vulnerable families
Sep 01 | Winter Energy Payment ending despite record levels of hardship
Aug 25 | Spot the difference: Why are South Auckland rents so high?
Aug 06 | Tenancy protection lifts wellbeing for vulnerable families
July 20 | CPAG calls for political parties to take child poverty seriously this election
July 15 | CPAG calls for nationalisation of ECE sector
July 15 | Could the government nationalise ECE?
July 02 | NZ is being shown up by Australia's family tax credit system - CPAG
Jun 29 | More education needed to combat scammers preying on Pacific communities
Jun 18 | Covid-19 puts families at greater risk of debt traps
Jun 18 | COVID-19 crisis leading to potential hunger crisis
May 27 | New research shows current benefits leave families in poverty
May 27 | Let's not divide NZers with an 'unfair' two-tier benefit system
May 25 | Budget 2020 - An opportunity lost or just deferred?