Three year targets not enough to reduce child poverty - CPAG

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says the prime minister's three-year targets to reduce child poverty and hardship among New Zealand's children don't go far enough.

Jacinda Ardern claims that the targets announced yesterday will help to lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty.

The CPAG Health Spokesperson is not impressed by the bill's three-year targets.

“We'd like to see another added that is [for] very severe poverty,” says Professor Innes Asher.

“These are children who are in households supported by less than 40 percent of the median income after housing costs. We’re talking about children in very severe poverty. There’s 140,000 children like that- one in eight.  There needs to be a target for them as well”.

Under the bill, children who live 50 percent below the median income are considered in poverty or hardship. Alarmingly, a large number of the children are Māori. The prime minister says her targets will address the most needy.

“I know they had a particular issue with one of the child poverty measures, that measure actually is in legislation,” says Ardern, “It's just not one of the ones that the government's required to set targets against”.

The government will implement its targets through its Families Package of an extra $75 per week to help 384,000 families from the 1st of July.  However, CPAG says it's still not enough.

“We want them to roll out the child-related tax credit to all beneficiary families with children so that it reaches those who are the most poorly off- and until that happens those children will be in deep poverty,” says Asher.

The closing date for submissions on the bill is midnight, 4th of April.

The three-year targets under the bill:

The first is targeted at low Income families and involves around 160,000 children. The government hopes to lift 70,000 of them out of poverty.

The second target addresses families after all housing costs are met.  There's around 210,000 children in this bracket, they aim to lift 40,000 children out of poverty.

Thirdly, they want to ensure 30,000 children are given basic necessities such as three square meals a week, warm clothing and access to doctors.