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CPAG responds to ACT's Blueprint

16 December, 2004

Child Poverty Action Group responds to ACT's Blueprint For Ending Child Poverty

Muriel Newman should stop scaremongering. When does she criticise inflation adjustments to pensions for those over 65? These are automatic every year: are they also putting us on the slippery slope to third world living standards - or do they in fact strengthen the social fabric by eliminating poverty among older New Zealanders?

Child Poverty Action Group’s Dr. Susan St John says “All that increasing Family Support would do is provide some minimal inflation catch-up. The poorest children have had no increase in Family Support since 1996, and even then got precious little. They will wait nine years for the 2005 increase which even then won’t be much for the poorest. It is bizarre to argue that the cost of a further $15-20 per week per child would dictate a massive tax hike and an increase in child poverty.

“The government had planned to increase Family Support comfortably in 2005. Its surplus is now much higher, so it can and should increase Family Support comfortably in 2004.” Families have huge needs now with the Christmas season, summer holidays and the start of a new school year nearly upon them, so now is the time.

Newman opines "The only way to eradicate child poverty is to raise our standard of living into the top half of the OECD, so that working families are better off, and families on welfare have better job prospects.” Interestingly neither the UK nor the Australian government believe her assertion as they have very generous indexed family assistance programmes to combat child poverty which leave us looking both stupid and mean.

What a miserable world it is when so many people must struggle to feed their families or face the ignominy of food banks. The country’s future growth is dependent on a vital resource, children, so parenting is vital work. Let’s value it and count it in GDP so then we can see that parents contribute to the economy in caring for children, at least as much as they would doing the kind of menial substitute job that Newman and her ilk want to force them into.

ENDS

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