Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) welcomes the end to sanctions on sole parents by the Government, one which deducted up to $27 dollars a week per child where the father was not named on the birth certificate. The sanction predominantly affected mothers and Pasifika and Māori were disproportionately targeted, consisting of over 60% of those sanctioned as of December 2019.
AAAP launched a campaign to end this punitive sanction in 2016 and garnered support from all current Government parties before the 2017 election. Official Information Act figures showed that as of December 2019 there were still 17,386 children affected by this sanction. While AAAP has supported people to have the sanction removed and back paid, the process was often long and difficult, with very few women being able to access it despite being entitled to it. Some of the women AAAP advocated for received over $20,000 worth in back payments when the sanction was lifted.
“The end of this sanction is a win for Auckland Action Against Poverty, allied organisations and people on the benefit who spoke up against this punitive policy”, says Brooke Fiafia, Auckland Action Against Poverty Spokesperson.
“The Government had this sanction in place to encourage fathers to provide child support, but they never managed to produce any evidence that it worked. It should not have taken this long to end given all Government parties supported removing the sanction before the term started.
“Now that there is acknowledgement from the Government that the sanction should not have existed, we are calling on them to proactively back pay every parent who was wrongfully sanctioned. Women should not have to re-tell the moment of conception of their children to Work and Income staff in order to qualify for back payments.
“Doing this will help put money in the pockets of families and provide justice for people who were deprived of essential income for their children for years.