Almost 10 years ago I made a documentary called Inside Child Poverty.
Some people (largely members of John Key’s government) got very angry with me. I was a left wing pinko journo making this stuff up in an election year. There was no such thing as “Child Poverty” and “even if there was,” said then MP and Minister Paula Bennett you couldn’t measure it.
Well a group of academics at the invitation of the then Commissioner for Children proved you COULD measure it. And in the last Labour Government we saw the establishment of what I called for at the end of my programme – a Ministry for Children.
While I’m pleased to see that some things have changed for the better – eg free medical care for children under 14 a lot of things haven’t.
Housing is still a huge issue.
235,400 children (21 children in every 100) are living in households with disposable income below 50% of the median income after housing costs.
In the 2018 census there were 282,228 children in Aotearoa who lived in damp housing and 237,543 in housing with mould.
3 in every 10 of our lowest income families still spend over half their income on rent .
Over half (53%) of low-income one-adult households with dependent children spent more than $40 per $100 income on housing costs, and nearly 4 in 10 (37%) experienced very high housing stress in spending more than $50 per $100 income on housing.
77,976 under-18 year olds without access to one or more basic household amenities such as safe tap water, cooking and washing up facilities, a bath or shower, a toilet, a refrigerator or a supply of electricity.
An estimated 4,212 under-18 year olds missed out on most of the seven basic amenities (4 per 1,000 with 1-3 amenities available) and an estimated 4,833 children lived in dwellings with no amenities (5 per 1,000).
Prime Minister Ardern once said we should keep her government accountable if it did not make significant progress in this all important area of Child Poverty.
Well, let me give this government some feed back.
Progress on Child Poverty is not good enough by a long way.
Calling for reports on taxation and welfare and then ignoring their recommendations fools no one .
This Labour government has been given a clear mandate for progressive change. It needs to deliver if it wants to stay in power because right now on the issue of Child Poverty their report card reads…
“Could do much better. If really tried”.
Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.