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Give Breaks To Those Who Need It – NZCCSS

Give the breaks to those who need it – our poorest children

To start lifting all children in Aotearoa New Zealand out of poverty we need to set measurable targets to reduce the unacceptably high number of children who continue to live in severe or significant hardship.

This is the message that the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) takes from Left Behind: How social and income inequalities damage New Zealand children, a major report on child poverty released today by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

“The bottom line is that we can’t achieve a just and compassionate society if we don’t take more steps to support families and communities to look after our children and treasure them as taonga,” says Trevor McGlinchey, NZCCSS Executive Officer.

“When NZCCSS and Church leaders issued their call to all New Zealanders to ‘Look after each other – Aroha tētahi ki tētahi’ in March of this year, the government made an immediate response. That response was that as a result of policies in the last seven years an estimated total of 130,000 children are expected to be lifted out of poverty. A figure of this size again confirms the large scale of poverty within our families and communities but doesn’t specify how many more children are being ‘left behind’”.

“NZCCSS commends the progress being made but, along with CPAG, we would argue that the deep and persistent ‘poverty traps’ that remain are tied to low benefit levels, made worse by measures such as the high tax on low incomes and unequal distribution of the In-Work Tax Credit,” says Trevor McGlinchey.

“There is a cycle of childhood poverty and disadvantage that is fed by other disparities and inequalities in areas such as health, housing and education. This won’t be solved by an approach based on paid work and paid work alone”.

“We agree with CPAG that a many-faceted response is needed to combat the downward pressure of widening income gaps and that dealing with this issue in a just and socially inclusive way is New Zealand’s next great challenge”.

“We are paying an enormous price for not doing enough – children dying of abuse and neglect, children growing up with poor health, education opportunities lost, women and children moving house many times as their families struggle to maintain tenancies in the rental market”.

“We know that New Zealanders are compassionate people and we need to find ways to show that care and concern through the ways we organise our social security, tax, health, housing and education systems – preferably with much wider public consultation and community input”.

“We also join with CPAG in questioning whether a New Zealand government will ever adopt an official poverty line, like the 60 percent of median income set in the United Kingdom, and whether targets will ever be set that would demonstrate a measurable commitment to ending child poverty for all children in this country?”

ends

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