Desperate children have been excluded from today’s Government announcement on additional hardship assistance, which will do nothing to lift children in deepest need out of poverty, says the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).
The Ministry of Social Development announced that income limits for Hardship Support payments have been lifted, however these only are temporary, will reach very few people and the payments may be recovered putting families further into debt.
“The Government continues to say it is monitoring the situation, but 10 weeks into the lockdown we are still waiting for meaningful income-related support for children and their families” says CPAG spokesperson Associate Professor Mike O’Brien. “Today’s announcement will make very little difference to families as they are one-off payments: families need adequate regular income they can rely on.”
Whānau have unexpected and mounting lockdown bills including high power and internet bills to keep kids engaged with school, as well as high grocery prices and the loss of school food programmes, says Associate Professor O’Brien.
A recent CPAG report found that poverty, inequity, homelessness and food insecurity are among the burdens which increased for tamariki Māori and other children in the first year of Covid-19 – partially due to Government neglect.
“Children living in families with inadequate resources – particularly disadvantaged tamariki Māori and Pacific children – are among those being made to bear the heaviest Covid-19-related burdens. Children are hurting now, and the longer their need is left, the worse the consequences will be for everyone,” says Associate Professor O’Brien.
CPAG is calling on the Government to immediately bring forward the promised benefit increases and to ensure all low-income families are eligible for all Working for Families payments such as the In-Work Tax Credit. Systemic, sustained increases in income for low-income families are needed, rather than piecemeal solutions via private charities and one-off assistance.