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Children, not ideology, at the heart of policy

Children, not ideology, at the heart of policy

Child Poverty Action Group has welcomed the Green's policy on Working for Families announced yesterday and says it puts children's needs at the heart of policy.

CPAG economics spokesperson Associate Professor Susan St John said, "The Green's policy reflects the principle of equality for all low income children, including newborns, and puts children's needs first rather than paid work. All children in low income families would get the same access to tax-funded support. All newborns would also get extra income on the same basis. This is a monumental step forward. In conjunction with other policies, a real shift in our disgraceful statistics is possible."

The Green Party's policy to join up the In Work Tax Credit and the Family Tax Credit in a much needed simplification will deliver significant help where it is needed most, without going all the way up the income scale.

CPAG is urging other parties to put aside party politics and agree to clean up Working for Families in the simple, effective and fair way proposed by the Greens.

CPAG argued for ten years in the courts that the provision of the In Work Tax Credit in the Government's Working for Families package was discriminatory under New Zealand's Human Rights legislation. The ambiguously named In Work Tax Credit is part of the weekly payment to the caregiver to help with the needs of children but is conditional on the number of hours of paid work and being off benefit. The problem is families have this taken away if they lose work, as may happen due to a natural disaster or in a recession, or if they happen to be on a student allowance or they are unable to leave the benefit system for enough hours of paid work. CPAG has long argued that there are much better ways of rewarding paid work that do not damage children.

Susan St John said, "The Courts actually said that to exclude 230,000 of the poorest children from tax funded support constituted discrimination. The ruling of discrimination required that the high test of material harm was met. Unfortunately the courts did not then deliver justice for these children, many of whom have been left in serious poverty."

"In our current situation under a National-led government, families are kept really poor and denied the Parental Tax Credit and the In Work Tax Credit to create an incentive to get off the benefit system and into full time work. This flawed and judgemental approach fails to acknowledge the needs of children or the value of unpaid parenting. Australia's family tax credit system treats all low income children the same, with much better outcomes for children."


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