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Kids' bill tackling poverty pulled from hat

Kids' bill tackling poverty pulled from hat

A Green bill bringing back a universal benefit for all children has been drawn from the ballot today, an excellent first step in tackling child poverty in New Zealand, Green MP Sue Bradford said.

The Green Children's Issues Spokersperson is urging the Government, and other parties that say they care about families, to support her private member's Social Security (Child Benefit) Amendment Bill.

The bill introduces a universal child benefit, similar to the old Family Benefit, which would be available for all children - regardless of social background or parental income. The benefit would be paid to families at the rate of $15 a week for the first child, and $10 a week for all other children.

"It might sound like a small amount of money, but it will make a real difference to the lives of children, especially in low-income households," Ms Bradford said.

"While money alone doesn't guarantee a happy childhood, it is an important first step in tackling the poverty trap many New Zealand families are caught in. We need to be more proactive about the problems facing our children and young people today."

The bill is an important part of the Greens' campaign to end child poverty, launched last year and one of three key themes of the party's 2002 election campaign.

"We already have a universal benefit in New Zealand - it's called superannuation. We are calling for this universality to be applied to children," Ms Bradford said.

"Many groups working with low-income people and families share the Green Party goal of ending child poverty by 2010. We will work with these groups to persuade Labour that, by the time of next year's budget, a universal child benefit should be announced.

"If Labour is serious about eliminating child poverty, it needs to put its money where its mouth is and support my bill."

Government reports recognise the need to invest in young people, including the Social Development Ministry's third annual 'Social Report, out last week.

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