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Cullen asked to honour child poverty assurance

BARNARDOS NEW ZEALAND
www.barnardos.org.nz

MEDIA RELEASE
5 September 2003 - For immediate use

Cullen asked to honour child poverty assurance

Barnardos and a group of national and local community organisations have called on Minister of Finance, Dr Michael Cullen, to help eliminate of child poverty with next year’s budget.

“During the parliamentary debates on the Budget Policy Statement and the Budget earlier this year Dr Cullen emphasised that the Government would be addressing the issue of assistance for low family income – the root cause of child poverty,” says Ian Calder, Chief Executive of Barnardos.

“That recognition is heartening, but Dr Cullen placed assistance in the context of strong government surpluses and that is the wrong priority. Investment in children must not be the last item on the economic agenda,”

“There was a time when governments recognised our children as the first priority and invested heavily in school health services, school dental service, free education, family benefits and income support which really did meet the cost of living.

“Such social investment built social cohesion and a healthy future. Let’s restore that sort of priority to children once more.”

The letter was signed by Ian Calder, Chief Executive of Barnardos on behalf of the Child Poverty Action Group, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, NZCTU, NZ Council of Christian Social Services, UNICEF NZ, Presbyterian Support Central, Downtown Community Ministry (Wellington), Wesley Community Action.

“The government has committed itself to the elimination of child poverty as a key objective in its children’s agenda. Other political parties have also made the same commitment. But such statements are platitudes unless there is a commitment to its eradication by a definite date. Let’s have a firm goal to work towards such as they have set in the UK,” says Ian.

Copies of letters follow…


Minister of Finance
Member of Parliament
Parliament Buildings
Wellington


4 September 2003


Dear Dr Cullen,

We are writing to urge Government to make significant investment in addressing child poverty in the 2004/5 Budget.

We are aware that the Government has made some investment in addressing child poverty, but unfortunately these investments have not been enough to make any real difference to levels of child poverty, and the negative outcomes for children associated with poverty.

We believe that there should be a significant investment in reducing child poverty in the 2004/5 Budget and that further investment should be outlined in a public plan aimed at eliminating child poverty by a specific date. A significant investment is essential if New Zealand is to:
a. avert the significant social and economic cost of child poverty on future generations;
b. maintain the credibility of Government’s commitment to Government strategy documents and the promises made at the time of the 2003/4 Budget;
c. demonstrate Government’s commitment to investment and a medium-term focus - entrenched poverty undermines the Government’s sought after future ‘productive and cohesive society’ with sustainable economic growth; and
d. demonstrate the Government’s commitment to a just and inclusive society.

Up to thirty percent of New Zealand’s dependent children are in poor families – they're experiencing living conditions which a vast amount of research shows are linked to poor health, education and employment outcomes for children, youth and adults.

We hope that the 2004/5 Budget will make a significant difference to the present and future lives of New Zealand children. We look forward to your response to this letter.

Yours sincerely


Ian Calder
Chief Executive, Barnardos New Zealand

On behalf of:

Child Poverty Action Group
Ann Dickinson, Director, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
Ross Wilson, President, NZCTU
Eric Allan, President, NZ Council of Christian Social Services
Denis McKinlay, Executive Director, UNICEF
Joan Smith, Chief Executive, Presbyterian Support Central
Kevin Hackwell, Director, Downtown Community Ministry (Wellington)
Jeff Sanders, Director, Wesley Community Action

Minister of Social Development and Employment
Member of Parliament
Parliament Buildings
Wellington


4 September 2003


Dear Mr Maharey,

We are writing to support you in urging Government to make significant investment in addressing child poverty, and it’s symptoms, in the 2004/5 Budget.

We know you share our concern that thirty percent of New Zealand’s dependent children are in poor families and experiencing living conditions which a vast amount of research shows are linked to poor health, education and employment outcomes for children, youth and adults. We are heartened that the Government has previously signalled that the 2004/5 Budget will “make improvements to benefit and tax based family income assistance in the 2004 Budget” (2003 Budget).

We believe that there should be a significant investment in reducing child poverty in the 2004/5 Budget and that further investment should be outlined in a public plan aimed at eliminating child poverty by a specific date. We also consider it imperative that Budget 2004/5 sufficiently resource programmes to address the impacts of child poverty e.g. Te Rito; Care and Protection Sector Blueprint (etc).

A significant investment in reducing child poverty is essential to:
e. avert the significant social and economic cost of child poverty on future generations;
f. maintain the credibility of Government’s commitment to Government strategy documents and the promises made at the time of the 2003/4 Budget;
g. demonstrate Government’s commitment to investment and a medium-term focus - entrenched poverty undermines the Government’s sought after future ‘productive and cohesive society’ with sustainable economic growth; and
h. demonstrate the Government’s commitment to a just and inclusive society.

We are aware that the Government has made some investment in addressing child poverty, but unfortunately these investments have not been enough to make any real difference to levels of child poverty, and the negative outcomes for children associated with poverty.

We hope that the 2004/5 Budget will make a significant difference to the present and future lives of New Zealand children, and we appreciate your advocacy to this effect.

We look forward to your response to this letter.

Yours sincerely

Ian Calder
Chief Executive, Barnardos New Zealand

On behalf of:

Child Poverty Action Group
Ann Dickinson, Director, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
Ross Wilson, President, NZCTU
Eric Allan, President, NZ Council of Christian Social Services
Denis McKinlay, Executive Director, UNICEF
Joan Smith, Chief Executive, Presbyterian Support Central
Kevin Hackwell, Director, Downtown Community Ministry (Wellington)
Jeff Sanders, Director, Wesley Community Action

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