New figures released by Stats NZ today show across the board improvements in child poverty rates, with some statistically significant changes over the two years since official measures were put in place.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says government action has seen child poverty reduce against all nine official measures compared to the baseline year.
“Reducing the number of children living in poverty is a key priority for the Government and it’s pleasing to see our actions having a real impact on children’s lives,” she says.
“Our Families Package changes have decreased the number of children living in poverty by tens of thousands.
“Today’s numbers demonstrate our actions to reduce child poverty are making a real difference in children’s lives, and they are a promising indication our goal of halving child poverty within 10 years is on track.”
The Government has implemented a range of policies to support low income families and children, says Ardern.
Some, like the Families Package, put more money in the pockets of parents while others like healthy free lunches in schools, the scrapping of school donations for decile 1 to 7 schools, and free doctors’ visits for under 14s takes pressure of household budgets and improve kids’ quality of life, she says.
“These numbers don’t yet include the impact of the raft of changes we have made to support children living in poverty since the start of Covid; including the $25 benefit increase, indexation of benefits to average wage increases, doubling the Winter Energy Payment last year and increases to abatement rates. All these actions will further reduce child poverty.
“We know that there is more work to do, but we estimate over 100,000 households with children are on average over $100 a week better off as a result the full range of changes the Government has made to date.”
Covid-19 has increased financial pressure on many families so the Government is committed to ongoing support for those on low incomes including raising the minimum wage and expanding the Flexi-wage scheme to create more jobs, says Ardern.
“There is no silver bullet to fixing the long-term challenge that is child poverty, but today’s numbers show the actions we have taken so far are working and we are making progress as we continue work to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.”
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