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Call for focus on child wellbeing in welfare debate

8 July 201

Every Child Counts supports call for focus on child wellbeing in welfare debate

In a letter to government ministers and political party leaders that was tabled in Parliament yesterday, Professor Innes Asher has drawn attention to some important children’s issues* overlooked by the Welfare Working Group.

“Every Child Counts supports the efforts of Professor Innes Asher to draw government attention to child wellbeing because of the potential for welfare policies to either greatly improve outcomes for children, or lead to further entrenching inequalities and poor outcomes,” said Murray Edridge.

“Professor Asher correctly identifies the links between child development and the economic future of the nation, and reminds politicians of the medical and social costs associated with under-investment in children.

“Welfare policies must take into account the needs of children, rather than simply focusing on adults and work. Children do not choose their circumstances and they are especially vulnerable to the impacts of deprivation.

“We know that many Members of Parliament are turning their attention to the urgent needs currently facing New Zealand children so this letter is timely. We encourage the government ministers currently working on new welfare policy to take into account the information provided by Professor Asher and to ensure comprehensive child impact assessments are conducted on any new policies,” concluded Mr Edridge.

* The eight issues identified by Professor Innes Asher include:
1. Every child reaching his/her full potential is necessary for the economic future of New Zealand.
2. The importance of investing in the early years so that children reach their potential.
3. Requiring a sole parent to job seek when baby is one year old will be damaging to some children. Requiring all sole parents to job seek when their youngest is three years old will be unduly harsh for some children.
4. Sanctions against sole parents who do not comply will harm children, due to reduction in resources.
5. The reality for children of sole parents is harsher than this report describes.
6. New Zealanders work when there are jobs.
7. Threshold and abatement of earnings from paid work should be structured to enable the transition for parents from ‘not working’ to ‘working part time’ to ‘working full time’
8. Cuts in welfare in 1991 drove children into poverty, not parents into work.

A full copy of Professor Innes Asher’s letter is available at: www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1107/S00067/profs-letter-cautions-ministerial-group-on-welfare-reform.htm


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