December 10, 2012
Low benefit levels keeping Maori in poverty
A leading social policy researcher says lifting benefit levels is the key to addressing poverty in New Zealand.
This year's Children's Social Health Monitor shows one in five New Zealand children come from households where a benefit is the family's main source of income, and Māori and Pasifika children are increasingly hospitalised for asthma, skin infections and other acute respiratory conditions where poverty and poor housing conditions are contributory factors.
Charles Waldegrave, who helped develop the measures used to track poverty, says there is a strong lobby to tackle child poverty by giving beneficiary families’ access to the Working for Families tax credits.
"I personally don't share that view. I think what we need to do is use the poverty line as the medium term goal that all benefits should be lifted to that level over time and then you have your work incentives over and above that and your minimum wage over and above that because surely a civilised society must say we shouldn't have anyone living in poverty," he says.
Charles Waldegrave says research has shown that Working for Families and Kiwisaver continue to have a positive effect on helping Māori families lift themselves out of poverty.
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