It’s time lower paid workers and beneficiaries got a fair share of what the Government and OECD insist is a strong New Zealand economy, Peter Malcolm, spokesperson for the income equality project Closing the Gap, said today.
“The Reserve Bank last week echoed a largely positive report from the OECD, stating that New Zealand’s growth has been above average,” Mr. Malcolm said. “Yet reports continue to emerge that paint a very different picture — one of entrenched inequality and shocking levels of child poverty.”
Superu, the Government’s own social policy research unit, reported this week that nearly 20 percent of New Zealanders are facing serious disadvantages in life, particularly around income, housing and employment, with single parents the hardest hit.
This follows damning reports on the state of child wellbeing in New Zealand (from UNICEF) and an inequality gap that successive governments have failed to dent (NZIER).
“It’s clear lower paid workers and beneficiaries, particularly single parents and children, are not sharing in New Zealand’s economic growth,” Mr. Malcolm said. “But this is a problem the government could address quickly and easily by raising the minimum wage and boosting benefits.”
Instead, Mr. Malcolm said, National is continuing to talk about tax cuts, which will do little to close the inequality gap or reduce deprivation and disadvantage. “From the better-off people that I talk to, many would prefer to see any spare Government money used to reduce inequality, depravation and disadvantage, especially for children, rather than tax cuts” he continued.
Mr Malcolm also said the implicit suggestion in the recent NZIER report that New Zealanders were wrong to be increasingly worried about inequality just because it hasn’t been getting notably worse was not accurate.
“We’re worried about inequality precisely because successive governments have done nothing to close the gap,” he said. “Why, if the economy is as robust as the government says it is, have our levels of inequality not been reduced? Why, if the economy is as robust as the government says it is, are so many children and families homeless or in poverty?”
Links / References:
Reserve Bank Statement of Intent (28 June 2017)
OECD Report (15 June 2017)
NZIER on Inequality (23 June 2017)
Superu Report (26 June 2017)
UNICEF (Innocenti) Report on Child Wellbeing in NZ (15 June 2017)