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At last, a focus on children in the welfare debate

Media Release 9 December 2010

At last, a focus on children in the welfare debate

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) applauds the focus on children contained in the just-published report of the Alternative Welfare Working Group. The report highlights the need to ensure all children are adequately provided for, whether parents have paid work or a social security benefit. The report also argues that a focus on paid work alone will not reduce New Zealand’s high levels of child poverty and raise families’ standard of living.

Economics spokesperson Dr Susan St John welcomed the report as a breath of fresh air. “After so much talk focus on forcing parents into paid work, the acknowledgement by the Alternative Welfare Working Group that parenting is work is a welcome change. As the report says, we must invest more in children, particularly when they are very young, and stop leaving so many children behind in conditions of serious deprivation”.

CPAG strongly endorses calls to extend the In-Work Tax Credit to all low-income families. The estimated $450 million per year this would cost would go only to those with the greatest need. “This is a highly cost effective way to have an immediate impact on child poverty. An extra $60 per week to the poorest families in the country would be a huge step forward in their being able to afford basic items such as food and clothing,” said Dr St John.

“Working for Families is a complex nightmare of different tax credits with different rules and obligations. Time is well past for the scheme to be simplified and reformed to help the families that most need it” she said.

ENDS

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