Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Report suggests progress, but worst-off need urgency

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says that the Government’s Families Package Monitoring Report shows strong commitment to the intentions outlined in the Child Poverty Reduction Act, specifically with regard to reporting on progressing towards the Act’s targets.

"The Families Package was a start, but while on some level it’s had successes, it was nowhere near enough to lift the worst-off children out of poverty - and this really should be acknowledged," says Associate Professor Susan St John, CPAG’s Economics advisor.

"The Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s report, Whakamana Tāngata , that the Government itself commissioned, discussed the ‘broken’ welfare state and the need for additional annual spending of $5.2 billion. We are not hearing yet what will be done about the recommendations of this report."

After years of erosion in the real value of Working for Families, a substantial boost was needed - and delivered - with the Families Package.

"But to prevent problems further along, Working for Families should be regularly adjusted in precisely the same way that New Zealand Super is adjusted, and in the future, it should not be presented as a major budgetary package," says St John.

CPAG says that putting the building blocks in place to clean up an inherited mess is a very important part of the process to achieve the targets set for poverty reduction. But what’s most important now is the urgent next steps toward ensuring every child has the opportunity to thrive and to reach their potential by ensuring all families are properly resourced.

CPAG recognises that housing is a key issue for families in poverty.

"We are pleased to hear the Government is intending to ramp up efforts in this area," says St John. "As we have learned from the Ministry of Social Development’s 2019 Household incomes report, half of all Accommodation Supplement recipients are spending more than half their incomes on housing, and it means they have to continuously cut costs in other areas - such as for food.

"As we heard at our Summit on Monday, there is a good argument for changing the structure of housing-related support so that it doesn’t contribute to increasing housing costs."

CPAG welcomes the new Best Start payment for all families with newborns.

"Best Start is much better than the old Parental Tax Credit which was tied to work hours and excluded parents on benefits," says St John. "And it is being extended to the second and third year of a child’s life for families earning under the income threshold. This is a marked improvement on previous discriminatory policy for new parents."

But most children in families who are receiving a benefit, both sole-parent and two-parent families, have not had enough of a boost to put them over - or even nearly close to - the 50% after housing costs (AHC) poverty line. Their core incomes look more like 25-28% of the after housing costs median - well below the lowest supplementary measure of 40% AHC in the Child Poverty Reduction Act.

"Many families try to supplement their meagre benefits with paid work but their efforts are harshly penalised with the earned income abatement threshold set so low," says St John. "The fact that costs continue to outstrip low wages and benefits is a legacy of decades of poor policy around minimum wages and a lack of proper indexation of benefits and child-related tax credits.

"We need to see a plan around addressing the recommendations of the WEAG's report,

Whakamana Tāngata , which is missing from the Families Package Monitoring report. There are some tangible changes the Government can make in the short term that are not only effective but affordable."

CPAG says that there are steps the Government can take immediately to achieve a real change for families while being consistent with future welfare reforms:

- Reinstating the Winter Energy Payment so that it is a permanent increase to benefits.

- Joining up the In-Work Tax Credit to the main Family Tax Credit, so this payment of at least $72.50 per week per family which is currently and unfairly considered to be a ‘work-incentive’, can benefit all of our most struggling families at annual cost of $0.5b.

- Assisting the transition to work by immediately increasing the benefit threshold for earned income to $177 per week, equivalent to 10 hours of work on the minimum wage. In 1986 the threshold was set to allow for 15 hours of work on the minimum wage before benefit payments reduced, today it is roughly just over 4, and the recent changes will increase it to only roughly 5 by 2021.

- Individualising benefit payments and not penalising couples with reduced payments and placing extraordinary expectations on new couples.

The Government’s Whakamana Tāngata and the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy have stressed the importance of adequate income and standard of living. These changes above are the next income steps needed towards the vision of Aotearoa-New Zealand being the best place to be a child and young person.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Scoop Covid-19 Coverage: Auckland To Remain At Level 3 Restrictions, Rest Of NZ At 2 For 12 More Days

Auckland will remain at level three restrictions and the rest of the country at level two for 12 more days Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced.
She said this would be reviewed on August 21, but there was no indication yet anywhere was required to go to level four restrictions.
Ardern said a good start had been made in stamping out the infections associated with the Auckland family cluster and it appeared it had been picked up early. There was still no certainty about where the virus had come from, but it appeared to be new to New Zealand and not a sign the virus was dormant.... More>>


Government: Plan To Tackle Problem Plastics

Following the success of the phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags, the Government now has plans to phase out more single-use and problem plastics to reduce waste and protect the environment announced Associate Minister for the Environment ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The New Lockdowns, Leadership And Lebanon

As Melbourne has shown, the webs of urban life overlap so extensively that community transmission can be very hard to trace, let alone control. Each of the family members in the South Auckland family at the centre of the current outbreak will have had ... More>>


National: Emma Mellow As Auckland Central Candidate

Tonight the National Party has selected Emma Mellow to stand in the Auckland Central electorate for the 2020 General Election. Emma Mellow replaces retiring MP Nikki Kaye who first won the seat from Labour in 2008. Emma leads a team of communications ... More>>


Travel: Update On New Zealand And The Cook Islands Bubble

The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Henry Puna have welcomed the completion of phase one in the establishment of a travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Island. More>>

Election 2020: Labour Launch

E ngā mana e ngā reo Ngāti whātua ngā mana whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau, e tika te kōrero Ehara taku toa he toa (taki tahi) he toa (taki tini) No rēira tātou e huihui mai nei, ka ‘Hoake tonu tātou’ Thank you for that welcome. And thank ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Political Twins, And On Labour Extending Its Wage Subsidy Scheme

A quick quiz for the weekend. Which political party currently represented in Parliament issued a press release yesterday that contained these stirring passages: “[We have] long supported a free trade and free movement area between Canada, Australia, New ... More>>


Democracy 2.0: NextElection Partners With Scoop For Exciting Democracy Tech

Joint Press Release: NextElection, Scoop.co.nz, ScoopCitizen NextElection , a technology platform empowering democracy and Government accountability, and Scoop Independent News have partnered to strengthen citizen participation in the 2020 New Zealand General ... More>>


Covid-19: Poll On Management Approval

New Zealanders’ overall trust in the Ministry of Health and Government to manage the COVID-19 pandemic is at 82%, down from 91% during April. Overall distrust that the Ministry and Government will manage it in ways which best protect themselves More>>

Election 2020: National Releases 2020 Party List

National’s 2020 Party List is a strong mix of experience coming up through our Caucus, and new and exciting talent joining our team from communities across New Zealand, Party President Peter Goodfellow says. “The National Party is incredibly ... More>>

Horizon Research Limited: How Judith Collins Stopped The Bleeding

Horizon Research includes questions on voting from time to time in its surveys – for both forthcoming referenda and general elections. More>>

Your Vote 2020: Bringing Election Coverage To Viewers Across TVNZ Channels And Platforms

As New Zealand gets ready to head to the ballot box this September, 1 NEWS is bringing voters comprehensive coverage and analysis of this year’s General Election. TVNZ’s coverage will draw on the depth of experience held across the 1 NEWS team, says Graeme ... More>>

Economy: 30% Believe Households Worse Off, 298,000 Expect To Lose Jobs

64% of New Zealanders feel the economic position of their households is the same or better than a year ago – and 30% think it is worse or much worse, while 298,000 think they will lose their jobs in the next 12 months. Households’ perceptions ... More>>

State Services Commission: Findings Of Investigation Into COVID-19 Active Cases Privacy Breach

Deputy State Services Commissioner Helene Quilter has today announced the findings of an investigation into a breach of privacy regarding sensitive personal information. The investigation looked into who or what caused the disclosure of the information, ... More>>

International Security: New Zealand Suspends Extradition Treaty With Hong Kong

The New Zealand Government has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and made a number of other changes in light of China’s decision to pass a national security law for Hong Kong, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says. More>>






InfoPages News Channels