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High Court case highlights child poverty solution

5 September 2011

High Court case highlights child poverty solution

An historic High Court case being heard this week highlights one of the Green Party’s solutions to bring children out of poverty, the Green Party said today.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is appealing to the High Court over the way that Working for Families discriminates against the children of beneficiaries in the distribution of tax credits.

“Children have the same needs whether their parents are in paid work or not,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“They still need a warm, dry, safe home, food to grow healthy and strong, warm clothing, raincoats, and shoes.

“At present, children in 140,000 of our poorest families are denied support which could help guarantee these essentials, because of a discriminatory policy started by Labour and continued under National.

“The ‘In-Work Tax Credit’ component of Working for Families discriminates against children on the basis of their parents’ income. I commend CPAG for taking the courageous step to appeal this discriminatory policy to the High Court.”

Mrs Turei said that the usual justification for excluding beneficiaries from the extra support – that it would encourage them to move into paid work – was ineffective and unfair on children who had no control over their parents’ income status.

“At times of economic downturn and high unemployment, no amount of punitive policies can force parents into non-existent jobs.

“There are better, more effective ways to support parents to move off benefits and into paid work in the long-term – like providing better study support for them to upskill and retrain to enter the workforce.

“The ‘In-Work Tax Credit’ also hurts families when a parent loses his or her job – an all too common scenario at the moment. Not only is the financial rug pulled out from under them, but they lose access to this basic support at their time of greatest need.

“Ultimately, it is the children of our poorest families who are most hurt by this discriminatory policy. They have no control over their circumstances, but if we can guarantee them the basics, we can guarantee them the opportunity to have a great start in life.

“Making Working for Families work for every low income family by extending the ‘In-Work Tax Credit’ is part of the Green Party’s plan to bring 100,000 children out of poverty by 2014.

“It would be worth an extra $60 per week to 140,000 of our poorest families – enough to make all the difference for our vulnerable kids.

“I wholeheartedly support CPAG taking this appeal to highlight this important issue. While this case continues in the legal arena, the Green Party will continue to push the other political parties to make Working for Families work for every low income family,” Mrs Turei said.


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