Child Poverty Bill Doesn’t Address Cause: Inequality
Monday 3rd Dec 2018
As Parliament prepares to pass the Child Poverty Reduction Bill this coming week, the income equality group Closing the Gap again urges MPs to tackle the problem behind child poverty: inequality.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s bill is a good first step, but its focus on setting targets and improving reporting on child poverty are “process” issues, and don’t get at the root of the problem, Closing the Gap spokesman Peter Malcolm said.
Latest figures show child poverty in New Zealand stands at around 27 percent, meaning nearly 300,000 children living below the poverty line. “Those figures are proof enough — we don’t need more reporting and targets to tell us income equality must be urgently addressed,” Mr. Malcolm said.
Added to that, he said, are a fresh round of reports highlighting the impact of inequality on children.
The New Zealand Herald recently reported that one of the country’s major health initiatives, the Before School Check, could be underlining the problem, inequality. According to the report, children at the highest risk of poor health outcomes are less likely to get help, Mr. Malcolm said.
“Meanwhile data from the Ministry of Social Development released last week directly links poverty with emotional and physical ill-health in both mothers and children,” he said.
The focus on children must be underscored by a broader focus on inequality and that means pushing for a living wage as the minimum wage, significantly increasing benefits, capping excessive CEO salaries, and most importantly reforming the tax system to include much more steeply progressive tax scales, and an all encompassing capital gains tax Mr. Malcolm said.
“Inequality levels in New Zealand are obscene, and our tax system is urgently needs an overhaul if we’re to get our childhood poverty turned around,” he said.