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Government tax credits do not solve child poverty

Thursday 11 September 2008

Government tax credits do not solve child poverty

Despite government initiatives like Working for Families around 150,000 New Zealand children still suffer severe and significant hardship, University of Auckland’s Doctor Susan St John told Every Child Counts* annual conference in Wellington today.

“In developed countries, the old and the young are the most vulnerable to poverty and exclusion.” Dr St John said in her keynote address.

“New Zealand has been very successful in virtually eliminating poverty for those over 65. A universal pension tied to the average wage and not conditional on work history has been key.”

“In contrast, financial provision for children is not universal, is not adjusted for wage growth, and the amount that parents get for their children depends on work status.”

“This means that even after Working for Families, about 150,000 children have been left behind, in severe and significant hardship.”

Dr St John believes it is time to confront the ideology that says these children should only be helped out of poverty if their caregivers fulfil work-related criteria.

“Our policies are adult-centric – that is, they focus on the circumstances of adults rather than children.”

“Government must develop family income policies that take children’s needs as the baseline . It is only then that we will eradicate child poverty in New Zealand as we have done for old age poverty.”

ENDS

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