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ANZASW statement on new child poverty statistics

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) notes the release of the latest figures on child poverty by Statistics New Zealand (SNZ), which provide greater clarity on the severity of one of our most urgent national challenges.

The statistics indicate that one in five children / tamariki and youth / rangatahi in Aotearoa New Zealand are experiencing deprivation, half of which are in circumstances of severe poverty.

We welcome the use of measures that have improved the data collected by SNZ on this issue,
including the factoring in of household costs and the impact of these on spending power.

By including certain living costs in the analysis, the Association believes that the reality of the issue has been better represented; past estimations were based on data collected in the Household Economic Survey (HES), which was more narrowly focused on income and general trends.

The figures released this week represent a stark reminder of the need to provide greater support to struggling families / whānau. The insights provided by the new statistics demonstrate clearly that the problem of unaffordable housing- and the wider issue of the cost of living in Aotearoa New Zealand- is having a major impact on an already acute child poverty crisis.

It also shows that in order to improve the wellbeing of our children / tamariki and youth / rangatahi we need to make use of multi-factorial analysis that looks at the interconnected nature of social problems. .
Social workers bear witness on a regular basis to the long-term consequences of deprivation in households across Aotearoa New Zealand, in particular on those in key developmental stages of life.

Accordingly, the social work profession, including the Association, has for many years been advocating for greater efforts to reduce inequity, pay disparity and the cost of living, alongside our calls for heightened action on child poverty. We do so again now, while looking forward to future data which will indicate the first effects of the Child Poverty Bill.

Given their greater accuracy, it is fitting that these updated figures will be used as a baseline against which improvements can be measured and we welcome the fact that SNZ will release data using expanded samples in the future.

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