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UNICEF NZ Welcomes Child Poverty Proposals

UNICEF NZ (United Nations Children’s Fund)
Media Release
Tuesday 28 August, 2012

UNICEF NZ Welcomes Child Poverty Proposals


With confirmation from the Ministry of Social Development last week that inequality in New Zealand is at its highest ever level, UNICEF NZ believes it is good news that the Children’s Commissioner will recommend strategies to the Government to reduce child poverty.

Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF NZ, is confident that the investment approach to alleviating poverty for children (recommended by the Expert Advisory Group that reported to the Children’s Commissioner in the Issues and Options Paper) is the right way to address the persistent poverty that costs our nation over $6b per year in remedial services and even more in lost opportunity and potential.

Mr McKinlay said, “We are encouraged that this paper proposes short term strategies which, given political will, could reasonably quickly begin to benefit the interests of all New Zealanders.

“Targets to reduce poverty; a Child Poverty Act to establish how we measure poverty; reforming the tax credits and having benefits linked to inflation; feeding children in schools; improving housing; and ensuring better access to health and child care services and flexibility in models of delivery can all go a long way to getting it right for every child.”

Longer term solutions such as a universal benefit for every child up to six years old and improving the quality and variety of health care were viable proposals and longitudinal studies to assess the impact of changes are needed.

This echoes the recent unified statement of a large group of NGO’s in a recent *Briefing Paper collated by UNICEF NZ. The group agreed that child poverty, inequality, support for families and priority to investment in children are at the core of enhancing child wellbeing and building a better future.
The Expert Advisory Group also noted the importance of decent affordable housing - 70% of all children in poverty live in rental accommodation. Often this is low-grade and inadequate, contributing to a wider range of problems including health. There is also a shortage of housing, with Auckland alone needing an extra 10-15,000 extra homes.
“We have one chance to get it right for every child,” Mr McKinlay said. “If we fail the 25% of children who live in poverty now, we are storing up intractable problems for the future which will have far-reaching consequences for our country’s future health and prosperity.”
There is opportunity for comment on the EAG/ Children’s Commissioner proposals until 12 October. Revisions and costings will be completed before the final report goes to Government in December.
*Briefing paper “All Children thriving, belonging, achieving, – what will it take? (Unicef NZ July 2012) responding to Government’s Green Paper for Vulnerable Children

-ends-


About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.

The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.

UNICEF is a charity funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

Every $1 donated to us is worth at least $10 in the field thanks to the way we work in partnership with governments, local NGOs and other partners - www.unicef.org.nz

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