Government called out on poverty fail

The Salvation Army’s latest state of the nation report highlights yet again the tragedy of a government that has all but given up on any serious efforts to stem New Zealand’s disgraceful child poverty rate, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson and Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern says.

“This year’s report is aptly titled ‘She’ll be right’. Those three words pretty much sum up the attitude of the National government, which seems content to sit back while things steadily get worse for our kids.

“Giving it a below average ‘D’ for progress on child poverty, the report makes specific reference to the Ministerial Committee on Poverty’s lack of action, yet the government continues to claim the committee is making a difference.

“That’s just rubbish. Both the White Paper on Vulnerable Children and Paula Bennett’s welfare reforms have been heavily criticised for either ignoring poverty or for making it worse

“It’s particularly astounding that the government is also claiming the reforms have helped when all the evidence points to a massive increase in the use of sanctions on families with kids doing more harm than good in an environment where there is simply no work.

“What part of child poverty and its progression to chronic and on-going poverty doesn’t this government get? We all know child poverty isn’t just a problem for the present – it has long-term consequences, and right now it’s costing taxpayers $6 billion each year.

“The Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group has provided the government with a suite of measures to help tackle child poverty.

“Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.”