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Child poverty and inequality in NZ

Income Equality Aotearoa New Zealand Inc. ( Closing the Gap

MEDIA RELEASE- Please adhere to a strict reporting embargo on this until Monday 9th December 2013

“It is a moral outrage” says Peter Malcolm, National Secretary of Income Equality Aotearoa New Zealand inc “Closing the Gap”. “Has greed taken over from any sense of compassion in New Zealand?” he went on to ask.

Earlier last week UNICEF produced a report showing that around 20% of our children live in poverty. Now the Child Poverty Monitor, a report produced by the Children’s Commissioner in collaboration with the University of Otago New Zealand Child and Youth Epidemiology Service, supported by the JR McKenzie Trust, shows similar results. To be precise, using the less than 60% of the median household income after housing cost as a measure of poverty, 25% of children in the 0 to 17 age group lived in poverty in 2012, and 10% lived in severe poverty. Hospital admissions for medical conditions that arise from social conditions continued to rise.

Using the “Economic Living Standards” index where households are considered living in hardship if they “ticked” more than 6 out of the 16 measures of economic hardship produces 17% of the same group of children living in hardship.

It is clear that in New Zealand we have a significant group (about 1 in 5) of children - the future of our country - who live in poverty/hardship. Aside from any sense of compassion on our part, there is enough research that the social, emotional, medical and educational consequences of living in a state of poverty are dire.

A number of financial commentators are now agreeing that the income gap in New Zealand is growing. Over the period 2006 to 2013 there was a 75% increase in the number of people earning over $100,000 a year whereas the median income, $28,000 per year, has not kept pace with inflation. Recently there have been a number of calls for executives, and politicians to be paid more. “Greed” says Malcolm.

There is now incontrovertible evidence that high levels of income inequality, which is what we have now in New Zealand, are a direct cause of many social ills.

In the words of the recently deceased French diplomat, ambassador, writer, concentration camp survivor, French Resistance member and BCRA(French Military Security Agency) agent Stephane Hessel, it is “Time for Outrage” says Malcolm. It is time for New Zealanders to wake up and initiate a return to a fair, compassionate, more egalitarian society.


ENDS

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