Marama Davidson: New stats help government reduce child poverty

By Tema Hemi

Greens Co-Leader Marama Davidson says new statistics from the Stats NZ Child Poverty report released today will help the coalition Government to continue to reduce child poverty rates in New Zealand. 

First steps have been taken for an immediate reduction in child poverty. 

Davidson says, "Yes they are, and it’s important that we recognise the first steps.

“We have taken for example in benefits, we are finally tagging benefit increases to wage increases that should have happened twenty years ago.

“So kei te pai, but there is still more we need to do which includes increasing the baseline core benefit rate immediately and urgently."

Stats NZ has released its child poverty statistics and it shows seven out of nine child poverty measures have improved under this Government. General Manager of Social and Populations Insights at Stats NZ Jason Attewell says:

"What we've produced today was nine different measures of child poverty.

“Now child poverty is a real complex issue, and it’s really hard to define who's poor and who's not poor.

“So we don’t look at just one measure we look at nine measures across."

For the first time Stats NZ are able to provide an ethnicity breakdown that indicate, based on figures that Māori and Pasifika children are more likely to live in poverty more than any other ethnicity on New Zealand. 

"So once again because we got the larger sample size for the household economic survey that allows us for the first time to report child poverty rates by ethnicity also by region.

“And for ethnicity what it shows is that for Māori and Pacific children poverty rates are much higher across eight of the nine measures of child poverty," Attewell continues.

Davidson adds, "We know now that Māori and Pacific are far more likely to be living in hardship than the national average."

In the year ending June 2019, about one in five Māori children (55,000) lived in households with less than 50 percent of the median equivalised disposable household income before housing costs are deducted.

The rate is similar for Pacific children (30,200). These rates compare with about one in nine for European children (80,300).

Davidson says in closing, "So we need to go further and faster in making sure that we are lifting more children and their whānau out of poverty, out of living in hardship." 

The report covers the period from mid- 2017 to mid-2019 and captures a partial impact of the Families Package, which began rolling out in June 2018 and is yet to be fully implemented.