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Plunket welcomes steps to help families living in poverty

Plunket welcomes steps to help families living in poverty

Plunket is welcoming the child hardship package of $790 million over four years in today’s budget as a step forward in helping children in New Zealand’s poorest families.

As part of the government’s ‘child hardship package’, as of 1 April 2016 beneficiaries with children will receive $25 a week more. Families not on a benefit on a low income will receive up to $12.50 more from Working for Families, or $24.50 a week for those with very low incomes.

“We welcome the government’s decision to put more money into the pockets of those families who regularly don’t have enough money to heat their home, or buy enough food for their children or for themselves,” said Jenny Prince, Plunket’s Chief Executive.

“Reducing child poverty is the best investment we can make in our future, and will require multiple actions. We welcome the government’s commitment today to invest more in vulnerable children as a significant and positive step forwards in a longer journey.”

As part of its child hardship package, the government also announced as of 1 April 2016 it will require sole parents on a benefit with children aged three and four to be available to work 20 hours a week. Previously, sole parents were required to be available for 15 hours of work when their youngest child turned five.

“It is important there are protections in place to ensure that this is not at the expense of taking away from their ability to parent well. It’s important to recognize that a parent raising a child is of value to society, just as we recognise that a parent working is of value to society.”

Plunket also welcomed the pre-budget announcement of free doctors’ visits and prescriptions for children aged under 13. This takes effect from 1 July 2015 and the government estimates over 400,000 children will benefit.

“This is a positive step in removing one of the barriers families living in poverty face in getting access to the right health services for their children,” she said.

She said that children living in poverty are more likely to have health problems from living in over-crowded, cold, damp housing and having little nutritious food, and have a higher than average risk of hospitalisation for infectious diseases and injury from assault.

“Plunket welcomes today’s announcement by the government as a step in the right direction, but there is much more to do to ensure every child in New Zealand gets the best start in life.”

ENDS

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