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Welfare reform key to good start for children

Welfare reform key to good start for children

A report that shows child poverty is common despite the best economic conditions in a decade, confirms the Government's changes to welfare are increasing poverty, says National Social Services Spokesperson Katherine Rich.

The Child Poverty Action Group reports that many children are still being seriously disadvantaged. Under Labour foodbank usage is up and there are increases in childhood diseases.

"Coupled with Treasury's prediction of increasing number of people on welfare over the next three years, this is a disastrous combination for the country," Katherine Rich says. "Too many of our children don't get a fair shot at building the foundation of a happy adult life. There is no quick fix to entrenched dependency, but raising benefit levels only increases welfare dependency and traps more Kiwis into a subsistence existence.

"The only proven ticket to a better life is work. That's why National is considering reintroducing work for the dole and looking closely at the United States welfare reforms.

"The Government continues to ignore the positive results of American welfare reform. Child poverty and child hunger measurements, although still too high, are the lowest in US history, and welfare rolls have dropped by up to 60 percent since 1996, with most people leaving welfare to enter the workforce.

"John Tamihere was right when he said that the time to reform the welfare system is when the economy is doing well. Sadly Steve Maharey has lost that opportunity and his relaxation of the welfare system will mean more rather than less poverty during Labour's term," Mrs Rich said.

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