February 23, 2021
Housing and benefits key to child poverty action
The Commissioner for Children is asking for bold action on incomes and housing to address child poverty and material hardship.
Assistant Māori commissioner Glenis Philip-Barbara says while the latest child poverty statistics from Stats NZ show all official measures of child poverty were trending down before the COVID-19 lockdown, Māori and Pacific children were still worse off than other tamariki.
Nearly one in five Māori children and one in four Pacific children experienced material hardship in the year to June 2020, more than double the rate of their non-Māori counterparts.
She says it raises questions about how far benefits have slipped from being able to cover basic living costs for whānau.
"Are they able to get themselves out of material hardship? Because the measures for material hardship are things most of us would take for granted – a warm pair of shoes. A coat for when it's raining. Access to vegetables. The ability and confidence to go to the doctor if baby is sick. All of these normal things, not one of us I believe would want out whānau on a benefit going without," she says.
The Office of the Children’s Commissioner wants to see benefits increased by between 12 and 47 per cent – in line with the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group – along with solutions to rising rents, and in-kind benefits such as free medical care to age 18.
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