Media Release: Budget 2013

Source: Child Poverty Action Group – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Media Release: Budget 2013

21 May 2013

There are four key areas for children: income, health, housing, and education.

CPAG is looking to the Government for a strong indication that it now appreciates the scale and tragedy of child poverty in New Zealand.

This is a budget in difficult times but there is no excuse for the widening gaps in society.  The devising of a growth strategy that will generate more meaningful jobs is a key issue, but deliberate and significant redistribution is also required.

“Otherwise the recovery will simply result in gains for the privileged few and the poorest children missing out again” says Associate Professor Mike O’Brien, CPAG Convenor.

There are four key areas for children: income, health, housing, and education.

Income improvement was a key recommendation of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group.  That group wanted government to spend $1.2-2B more on children.

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CPAG says that as a first step Government should spend an extra $450-500m per annum to extend Working for Families tax credits so that it fully covers all low-income children.

This means joining up the Family Tax Credit and the In Work Tax Credit” says Associate Professor Susan St John. “An extra $60 a week for a family means less time spent queuing for food parcels or arguing for additional temporary support payments from WINZ”. 

Those at the very bottom of the child poverty statistics would gain without giving any extra to better-off families. The second step, just as in Australia, every newborn in a low-income family should be assisted on an equal basis. “This would require that the Parental Tax Credit of $1200 which only helps a few be added to the Family Tax Credit for the first year so that all low income babies are given the same essential extra help” she says. 

For extra income in a fragmented and casualised labour market, parents on a benefit who can only work part-time need a regime that encourages their work effort. “This requires that the threshold of earnings before the benefit reduces be lifted substantially and the claw-back reduced” says Associate Professor Mike O’Brien. 

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