The Government’s Child Poverty Reduction Bill has passed its second reading in Parliament today. The Bill aims to establish benchmarks for child poverty rates, and entrenches the social investment approach by the previous Government. Auckland Action Against Poverty welcomes more detailed measurements of child poverty, but warns that without clear plans to reduce poverty the Bill will mean little to those on the breadline.
“The Child Poverty Reduction Bill, while painting a more inaccurate picture of poverty, won’t address rising levels of hardship for our most vulnerable”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.
“The Government already has measurements to assess levels of poverty, such as the growing levels of hardship grants and debt to Work and Income, the social housing waiting list, and income to rent ratios for low-income families. These statistics should have prompted the Government to increase benefit levels and introduce rent control legislation, yet the Government has not acted on the information its Ministries have.
“Passing this piece of legislation needs to be coupled with decisive political action to end poverty. The Families Package did not go nearly far enough, as it did little to address low income levels for people on the benefit receiving supplementary assistance.
“We’re yet to see any plans to effect the Labour Party’s election promises on welfare, with the Government not yet presenting a clear timeline on when it is going to remove benefit sanctions on sole mothers, which is affecting over 17,000 children.
“Setting measurements so that future Governments are accountable for poverty levels is important, but for the people struggling to get by the only thing that will make a difference is legislation that addresses low income levels and the shortage of public housing.”