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Liveable incomes crucial to children’s wellbeing now and their futures – SCNZ

Save the Children is calling on the Government to commit to investing in policies to lift more children and whānau out of poverty following the release of today’s latest child poverty statistics shows significantly more children experiencing material hardship in Aotearoa.

Child Poverty Statistics for the year ending June 2023 released today by Stats NZ show the number of children experiencing hardship in their everyday lives is increasing, with specific groups of children – including mokopuna Māori, disabled children and Pacific children – particularly impacted by poverty. Today’s figures do not include those children and families living in emergency housing, the hardest end of poverty.

“Inflation and the rising cost of living has undermined many of the gains made across the six years we have been measuring child poverty in Aotearoa,” says Save the Children New Zealand’s Advocacy Director Jacqui Southey.

“The impact of these rising costs is being felt by children and families unable to afford the basics needed to live good lives.

“Every child and their family needs a liveable income that can keep pace with the cost of living.”

Ms Southey is concerned the harsher sanctions imposed on beneficiaries and the reduction in benefit levels signalled by the new Government will further impact children and their families and push even more into material hardship.

“Political will and child-sensitive policies are critical when it comes to lifting children out of poverty and ensuring they have what they need to thrive and do well in life.

“Policies like Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy school lunches programme, or free period products in schools are just some of the important policies that tangibly support children to have what they need – and these must continue to be funded.”

Ms Southey says the focus also needs to be on providing affordable and healthy housing for families doing it tough.

“The Government has an important responsibility to ensure that every child lives in a healthy and affordable home, including those on the lowest incomes. The lives children lead now directly impacts their futures.”

The data released today shows that there have been increases across three of the nine official measures of child poverty under the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018. Of particular concern is the jump in the percentage of children experiencing material hardship, up from 10.5% in 2022, to 12.5%. This increases for particular groups such as mokopuna Māori (21.5%) and children with disabilities (22.3%) and even greater for Pacific children (28.9%).

“Income disparities experienced by too many children in New Zealand is a child rights issue. Every child deserves a decent standard of living, access to nutritious food, healthy and affordable housing, education, and healthcare. Government investment is required to ensure these rights are met for all of our children.”

Ms Southey says recommendations from last year’s examination of New Zealand’s progress on upholding children’s rights by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the Government to continue to prioritise public spending on measures to lift children out of poverty.

 

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