Fuseworks Media

CPAG: PM Luxon on track to break election promise on child poverty

Latest child poverty statistics that show an extra 23,400 children are living in material hardship are a stark warning for New Zealand with progress made in recent years now going backwards, according to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

Around half of children in poverty in New Zealand are in households where parents work.

CPAG warned Prime Minister Christopher Luxon he would break his election promise to halve hardship rates by 2028 if he didn’t put child poverty back on the agenda with radical policy changes urgently needed to help children living in hardship.

StatsNZ data, recorded from June 2022 to July 2023, show that in three primary measures used to calculate child poverty there were thousands more children living in poverty.

The number of children living in material hardship rose from 120,300 to 143,700 (1 in 8 children) on the previous period, according to StatsNZ.

Material hardship means households cannot afford 6 or more basics like: fresh fruit and veggies, heating, meat, doctor’s visits, car maintenance and unexpected bills.

The number of Māori, Pacific and disabled children in poverty is significantly higher. More than 1 in 5 Māori, almost 1 in 3 Pacific Island, and almost 1 in 4 disabled children are living in poverty.

“The lack of discussion about child poverty from the National-led coalition government is concerning. This government is focused on getting people into work, but we know over half of the children in poverty are in households with at least two, sometimes three or four incomes,” said CPAG spokesperson Assoc Prof Mike O’Brien.

“The government has obligations, enshrined in law, to reduce the number of children who are living in hardship and this data should be of huge concern to all New Zealanders.

“Decisions taken by the coaltion government so far, including indexing benefits to inflation, is one example of how policy will lock even more children into a cycle of poverty.”

CPAG is concerned for those living on a benefit, and those in minimum wage jobs whose income is not enough to live on.

“Having an increase in the number of children in poverty has implications for us all. For example children in poverty are more likely to live in unhealthy homes, which can cause health problems, and puts a strain on the health system for us all,” Assoc Prof Mike O’Brien.

“We know most Kiwis care about New Zealand children going hungry and without the basics because ensuring all children are thriving is the right and compassionate thing to do.”

There was strong evidence to show the fastest way to lift people out of hardship was to increase incomes, and this government urgently needed to start helping low-income earners including beneficiaries, Assoc Prof Mike O’Brien said.

Assoc Prof O’Brien said CPAG had tried to reach out to the new government to share evidence-based solutions that would help ease constraints on families struggling to make the very basic of ends meet but the Prime Minister had declined to meet with the group.

CPAG was also concerned income earned by school students, who still counted as dependents in child poverty figures, was being counted towards household income and masking the true extent of child poverty in New Zealand.


Powered by Fuseworks and Truescope - Media monitoring, insights and news distribution for New Zealand organisations.