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Report shows need for child poverty policy

14 August 2011

Report shows need for child poverty policy

A new report shows the huge cost of child poverty, and reinforces the need for a plan to bring 100,000 children out of poverty by 2014, the Green Party said today.

“Failure to address the poor outcomes associated with child poverty costs the economy approximately 3 percent of GDP, or about $6 billion per year,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“We need to act now to reduce child poverty. The Green Party has a plan to bring 100,000 kids out of poverty by 2014.”

Mrs Turei was commenting on the release of a report commissioned by Every Child Counts entitled 1000 days to get it right for every child: the effectiveness of public investment in New Zealand children.

“270,000 New Zealand children live in poverty – that’s one in four. These are not nameless, faceless kids; they are our kids, and they deserve better,” Mrs Turei said.

“This report shows that child outcomes in New Zealand are some of the worst in the OECD. It details how poor early childhood experiences not only limit the opportunities of thousands of New Zealand children, they cost us all down the line in increased health, welfare, remedial education, and justice spending.

“The report gives international examples to show that a relatively small investment in policies to reduce child poverty can produce great outcomes.

“It doesn’t cost the earth to reduce child poverty, but it costs us all to do nothing about it,” Mrs Turei said.

Mrs Turei said the Green Party’s solutions to bring 100,000 children out of poverty would cost $360m per year, or less than 0.3 percent of GDP.

“Contrast this with the $6 billion cost of doing nothing identified in this report, and it’s a no brainer.”

The Green Party’s solutions to child poverty were: 1) make Working for Families work for every low-income family; 2) provide better study support for sole parents and beneficiaries; 3) raise the minimum wage to help working parents; and 4) make sure rental properties are warm and healthy for kids.

“This report shows that the first one thousand days of a child’s life are critical in determining whether or not that child will be a healthy, mature and productive adult.

“The Green Party’s solutions are easy, affordable, practical solutions that would make a huge dent in our child poverty statistics, and help to ensure that hundreds of thousands of kiwi kids get the chances they deserve,” Mrs Turei said.

“I welcome this report, and look forward to implementing practical solutions to end child poverty in New Zealand.”

Authorised by Metiria Turei and Russel Norman, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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