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Revised figures show government policies have failed poorest

28 Feb 2014: News from CPAG

Revised figures show government policies have failed poorest

Child Poverty Action Group says new figures from Statistics New Zealand and Treasury show the impact of the global financial crisis has been much more severe for poor children than previously believed.

Child poverty figures for 2010, 2011 and 2012 have been significantly revised upwards. The new figures show 25,000 more children living below the very low 50% (after housing costs) poverty line. CPAG's economics spokesperson, Dr Susan St John says, "This shows the failure of government policies to protect the poorest children during the recession and subsequent sluggish economic recovery."

St John says, "CPAG was puzzled in 2010 that the numbers produced by the Ministry of Social Development did not fully reflect what was reported in the community and what social agencies were saying. It seemed implausible that lower incomes were not to blame for the increased numbers of people seeking help from food-banks and budgeting agencies."

"Working for Families, which the government claims has protected families through the recession, has done no such thing for those families most affected. Parents who lost work in the deep and painful recession are likely to have also lost entitlement to the In Work Tax Credit (at least $60/week) for their children. The revised figures are now corroborating this effect."

In 2013 the Court of Appeal said that the In Work Tax Credit policy discriminated with harmful effect against 230,000 of New Zealand's poorest children in families on benefits. While the Court failed to declare this discrimination unlawful, society needs to confront the harm done to so many children

St John says, "We challenge the government to look again at its own policies that have increased child poverty."

Additional information:

See no poverty, hear no poverty, speak no poverty and count no poverty

by Assoc Prof Susan St John


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