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A good start for every child

5 September 2005

A good start for every child

Labour's Social Development Policy is focused on ensuring every child gets the best possible start in life, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

"Labour is committed to ensuring that there is always good support available to our children from birth through to their transition to school," Helen Clark said.

"This is important, not only for protecting the most vulnerable children in our society, but also for building a healthier, more successful nation.

"Labour is committed to ending child poverty in New Zealand and to ensuring that our families have every opportunity to get ahead."

Labour in a third term will:
- Make 75 per cent of all families with children eligible for Family Tax Relief.

- Fully implement Working for Families, which is estimated to reduce child poverty by 30 per cent by 2007.

- Provide 20 hours free early childhood education to all three and four year olds in teacher-led, licensed centres in 2007.
- Provide a new parenting support service and expand successful family support programmes like Every Child Counts and Wellchild.

- Increase the number of social workers in schools.

- Reform the benefit system and introduce a single core benefit, so services are focused on supporting more people to move off benefits and into jobs.

Steve Maharey said that in contrast to Labour, National was prepared to let child poverty increase in order to implement its policy of tax cuts.

"National wants to pay for tax cuts by cancelling the $10 a week per child Family Support increase scheduled for April 2007. That would lead to 18 per cent more children living in households below the poverty line than under Labour's policy.

"Don Brash and his welfare spokesperson Judith Collins have both been willing to admit that child poverty could well rise under National, as it did in the 1990s. Clearly, that is a price they would be prepared to pay to deliver their only policy for government."

Steve Maharey said National's only welfare policy on offer was a rehash of its failed work for the dole scheme, which it had not made provision for in its budget.

"This policy would cost around $100 million a year and has already been shown to lock people into welfare.

"National's 1990s work for the dole scheme was so unsuccessful that the evaluation of it found that people had less chance of getting a real job than if they hadn't been part of the scheme at all! " Steve Maharey said.


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