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Brash cuts ignore danger of child poverty

22 June 2005

Brash cuts ignore danger of child poverty

Don Brash's "tax cuts cure all" approach to child poverty shows National is ignoring its record of social failure, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

"Don Brash is refusing to promise his tax cuts won't increase child poverty and bring back food bank queues because he knows they will," Steve Maharey said. "I strongly believe that employment is the best way out of poverty for families, but we can't ignore the importance of good housing assistance, health care and basic social services in lifting families above the poverty line.

"Child poverty peaked at 34 per cent after National's 'Mother of All Budgets.' We learned the hard way that cutting benefits, selling state houses and starving the health system was a foolproof way to send families into poverty.

"It does no good to tell a parent living in poverty to get a job and promise them a tax cut if you're also going to cut their health care, cut their family assistance and sell their state house. Tax cuts can't compensate for their increased living costs."

Earlier this month, a Ministry of Social Development analysis showed that child poverty fell from 27 to 21 per cent in just three years to 2004. The Ministry cited strong growth in employment and the restoration of income related rents for state house tenants as the key drivers of the declining poverty levels.

"Since Labour was elected, 260,000 jobs have been created, 100,000 people have moved off benefits and 61,000 children have been lifted out of poverty. We've found the right mix of social assistance and employment support that's made a real difference for New Zealand families," Steve Maharey said.

Below is Don Brash's exchange with Sean Plunket yesterday on Morning Report:

Plunket: Do you… are you prepared to promise there would be no increase for example in child poverty and the use of food banks under a National government who gave tax cuts?

Brash: Look, there’s a cycle of these things, they go up and down. I can’t promise anything in that area but let me say this, the best way of dealing with child poverty, the best way of dealing with food banks is getting people into jobs, it’s to do with welfare reform, to get welfare rorts out of the system, to deal with welfare dependency. That’s the most effective way of dealing with this.


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