November 21, 2019
Benefit cuts source of persistent child poverty
The Children’s Commissioner says a rise in benefit rates is the single biggest action that could be done to address poverty.
The United Nations Rights of Children Day this week and Andrew Becroft weighed up the prospects for New Zealand’s children.
He says 70 percent do OK, 20 percent struggle, and the remaining 10 percent really struggle and face chronic intergenerational disadvantage on every measure.
That ratio has been consistent since soon after New Zealand signed the UN Convention on Children 30 years ago, and can be tracked back to the harsh benefit cuts in the National Government’s mother of all budgets in 1991.
“The first step is to undo the damage that was done in 1991. We’ve got the money, we’ve got a big surplus, it’s in the piggy bank. We say we’re waiting for a rainy day. If you ask children in need, this is the rainy day and we could do a lot to turn the clock back if we spent money on that 10 percent,” Commissioner Becroft says.
Initiatives like free school lunches, free medical care until age 19 and even free public transport to get to school can help right some of those wrongs.
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