Child poverty is a complex issue that won’t be fixed overnight, but so far under Labour’s leadership seven out of nine child poverty indicators have already started to improve. Under National’s nine years of neglect, seven out of nine indicators got worse.
Since 2017 we’ve rolled out practical support to help families immediately, such as creating the Winter Energy Payment and Best Start, increasing the family tax credit, increasing paid parental leave and introducing free lunches in schools, as well as introducing longer term interventions, such as the Child Poverty Reduction Act, which looks to turn New Zealand’s record on child poverty around.
On top of that, we’ve introduced the Families Package, which will see 384,000 families with children on average $75 per week better off, increased paid parental leave to 26 weeks and have committed to increasing the minimum wage to $20 an hour in 2021.
These policies have already lifted thousands of children out of poverty, but we know there’s more to do. As we recover and rebuild in the wake of COVID-19, Labour is committed to ensuring no one is left behind.
That’s why we will support low-income families and individuals now and into the future and it’s why we’ve recently announced a series of policies focussed on Labour’s commitment to investing in our people.
Our 2020 election policies set out the next steps in our plan to support Kiwi families and remove the financial barriers holding our whānau back from a better future. It builds on the work already underway to grow opportunities and incomes for families, and it’ll make a real difference for thousands of children across New Zealand.
In case you missed the announcements, here’s what we’ve committed to:
- We’ll help sole parents retrain and upskill by covering costs (up to $4,515.60) for things like childcare and course materials while studying, by expanding the Training Incentive Allowance. This will mean more people can afford to get the skills they need to get into work, which is especially important as our COVID recovery and rebuild picks up pace.
- We’ll incentivise paths into work by enabling people to keep more of what they earn without their benefit payments being reduced, by increasing the abatement threshold to $160 a week. For some people, this could mean an extra $3000 in their pocket each year.
- We’ll progressively extend Living Wage guarantees to contractors to the public sector – such as our cleaners, caterers, and security guards.
Together, these changes will mean better long-term outcomes for more Kiwi families: fewer barriers for training, more opportunities for employment, and more money in people’s pockets. Ultimately though, over time this policy will mean fewer children growing up below the poverty line, and will take New Zealand one step closer to being the best place in the world to be a child.
You can read more about the announcements here and here.