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More must be done to alleviate child poverty

3 September 2009
Media Statement

More must be done to alleviate child poverty

The OECD report into child poverty is a sobering reminder that we still have some way to go to alleviate poverty and inequity in New Zealand, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Annette King.

“Labour instigated a number of measures while in government to reduce child poverty. The Working for Families programme involved the biggest single redistribution of income to low and middle income families and is credited with lifting some 130,000 children out of poverty since 2004.

“A recent Household Income Survey published by the Ministry of Social Development shows the programme helped avert a sharp rise in child poverty.

“Under Labour there was also significant investment in primary healthcare, including cheaper doctors’ visits and prescriptions, and in early childhood education with programmes like 20 Hours Free,” Annette King said.

“There was a major investment in rebuilding the state housing stock and the minimum wage was raised each year.

“Labour also supported a range of initiatives such as the now slashed Training Incentive Allowance, designed to help sole parents get their families out of the poverty trap and into meaningful employment.

“There is no doubt however that there is much more to be done and Labour is in the process of exploring how best we can make further significant reductions in child poverty and ensure every New Zealand child is given the opportunity to get ahead.

“I have already signalled that I am revisiting the approach we would take for those on benefits and the lowest incomes in regard to the Working for Families package,” Annette King said.

“This is unfinished business and the OECD report underscores why. We are not going to create a more productive economy while significant groups of children are experiencing the disadvantages highlighted by the report.

“My message to Paula Bennett is this. Please don’t use the recession as an excuse not to make these children a top priority. “

ENDS

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