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A Tick for Closing the Inequality Gap

Tick for Kids Election 2014 Is a Tick for Closing the Inequality Gap

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) supports Tick for Kids Election 2014 : it takes a child to raise a country. “We recognise it as a significant initiative towards closing the inequality gap between rich and poor children in New Zealand”, says Executive Officer Trevor McGlinchey.

“All our children are New Zealand’s future and yet for over thirty years New Zealand has gone from a place that valued itself as the ‘best country in the word for bringing up children’ to one that has left increasing numbers of New Zealand children to flounder in poverty”, he says.

This unacceptable situation is not accidental but reflects policies of successive coalition governments. They have not put children first but have widened income gaps to create a culture of winners and the rest.

“Child poverty and inequality are intertwined and cannot be seen apart. New Zealand has enough resources to support all of our children properly”, Mr McGlinchey says. “The reality is there are twice as many children living in poverty now than there were 30 years ago.
“We know that from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s the gap between the rich and the rest widened faster in New Zealand than in any other wealthy country. At the very same time, children living in poverty almost doubled from 14% in 1982 to 27% of New Zealand children.”
In the last 30 years:
Incomes for people at the top have doubled, while those at the lower end have barely increased
The average household in the top 10 per cent of New Zealand now has nine times the income of one in the bottom 10 per cent
The top 1 per cent of adults own three times as much of the country’s wealth as the entire lower half put together

This dramatic increase in inequality in New Zealand has had far-reaching effects for our society, including many more children suffering from third-world diseases such as rheumatic fever. Increases in these diseases are not accidental. They are driven by poor quality and unaffordable housing, overcrowding and poor nutrition. Insufficient household income lies at the heart of child poverty.

NZCCSS is calling for government policies that lift the household income of vulnerable families so they can provide a healthy standard of living for their children. Policies such as paying a universal child benefit (e.g. by extending the In-Work Tax Credit to parents who are not in work) will help reduce child poverty. Policies like these make a contribution to reducing inequality and consequently lifting children out of poverty. It is much harder for children to achieve their potential when the income gap between rich and poor is too large.

“When we create an even playing field for all our children to grow, develop and flourish, we build a future New Zealand that is safe, healthy, innovative, and ready to take on the challenges of the future”, Mr McGlinchey says.


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