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Copeland: Family statistics a wakeup call

For immediate release

Tuesday, 1 July 2003

Copeland: Family statistics a wakeup call

United Future finance spokesman Gordon Copeland says Statistics New Zealand's latest figures on trends in family makeup are a wakeup call for politicians and other policy makers.

"Statistics NZ says that by 2021, the number of couples without children is expected to rise to 614,000, up 51% on the 2001 figure, and a majority of those couples will be over the age of 50," he says.

"So what we are seeing is a rising number of aged people depending on a diminishing number of people of working age who can help support them.

"Waikato University demographer Ian Pool has been quoted as saying he believes the situation will continue to deteriorate unless family friendly policies are put in place.

"He says all that is on offer for workers is paid parental leave and that does not amount to much.

"He says at the moment women cannot have children without setting back their careers and finances.

"Professor Pool believes that while on the one hand, workers are being told it is good to become more educated, policies actively discourage women from having children," says Mr Copeland.

"United Future agrees with Professor Pool's analysis and we have exactly the kind of family-friendly policies he is looking for.

"We want to:

* Introduce income splitting for families, so that raising a family does not become a burden too great for young couples;

* Introduce a home carer's allowance for parents at home caring for children under the age of five;

* Increase tax rebates currently available for child care costs;

· Require the Inland Revenue Department and other government agencies ensure families can fully access all tax rebates and family support entitlements.

"Everyone talks about supporting the family; not everyone is prepared to put their money where their mouth is and come up with specifically-targeted policies that will help strengthen our families and therefore our society," says Mr Copeland.

ends

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