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An End To Child Poverty In New Zealand

An End To Child Poverty In New Zealand

'New Zealand's high rate of child poverty can be reduced if New Zealand follows Britain's path', says visiting Professor Adrian Sinfield. 'In 1999 British Prime Minister Tony Blair promised to end child poverty by 2020. Subsequent policies have already brought the rate of child poverty tracking down. Five years ago it was around a third of the child population, as high as New Zealand's is now', he says.

Professor Sinfield is in New Zealand as Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Public Policy at AUT. He is Professor Emeritus of Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh and vice-chair of the Child Poverty Action Group (UK). He will speak to the UK group's New Zealand sister organisation at 7.30 this evening, Monday at the St Columba Centre, Vermont St, Ponsonby. His subject is, 'What can be learnt from the first five years 'ending child poverty' in the UK?'.

The UK Government's overall strategy has included keeping unemployment down, providing a minimum wage floor, making work pay and lifting the standard of living of low-income families. A key feature has been the new tax credits, especially the Child Tax Credit. These do not discriminate against families receiving assistance from Government as is the case in New Zealand. The focus is on providing a better life for all children with the Credit going to families both in and out of work. It is notable that the U.K. has also retained a universal child benefit despite the economic reforms of the eighties and nineties.

A 25% reduction of the rate of child poverty in the UK in five years is remarkable but new initiatives are needed to reduce it further. Professor Sinfield is confident that solutions can be found. The important change has been from a 'social exclusion' approach that blamed the poor for their condition to a 'social inclusion' one which looks ahead to a society in which everyone is able to participate and contribute.

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