Release: National’s traffic light system has child poverty reduction stalling

National’s cuts to funding for beneficiaries will once again leave children and their parents with less, Spokesperson for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Labour is focused on supporting people into work, not sanctioning them. Our investment into employment programmes like Flexi-Wage, Mana in Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi have helped record numbers of New Zealanders off benefit into work - 100,233 in 2022, 25.7% higher than 2017.

“We have prioritised removing harmful sanctions that impacted children. The removal of the section 192 sanction lifted the incomes of nearly 12,000 sole mothers by an average of $34 per week. This was estimated to benefit 24,000 children.

“We also removed the subsequent child policy sanction which was estimated to benefit over 40,000 children. Our changes have resulted in an 87 per cent drop in sanctions that impact children since June 2017.

“What the National Party have failed to realise, which is doubled down by their lack of evidence, is that sanctions can exacerbate already difficult situations. More than 42% of people receiving Jobseeker support cannot work or are working fewer hours because of a health condition or disability.

“Over the course of our term, we’ve delivered outcomes and interventions that have addressed the root causes of some of the challenges families face. The National Party seem to want to compound these challenges,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

National will also put thousands of Kiwi kids back into poverty by changing benefit adjustments to fund the ever-growing hole in their tax cuts.

“The previous Children’s Commissioner said the single best thing we could do to combat child poverty would be to index benefits to the change in average wages each year,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“History shows this is because, despite occasional peaks in inflation, over the long-term wage growth almost always outstrips CPI. In fact, it has only been higher than wage growth in three of the last 20 years.

“In 2020 Labour made the recommended changes, which are estimated to have lifted 5,000 children out of poverty over the past year.

“National’s indexation cuts could leave families receiving Jobseeker support worse off by $315 next year. And, due to the compounding effect, $1,023 worse off in 2025, $1,638 worse off in 2026, $2,135 worse off in 2027, and $2,621 a year worse off in 2028.

“Taking $2,600 off children in poverty to pay for their tax cuts for property speculators and landlords is immoral.

“Labour will keep indexation to wages – increasing the value of benefits over time and lifting thousands more children out of poverty.

“National’s outdated strategy of bashing beneficiaries to get votes is tired and ineffective. The Labour Party would rather invest in giving people the opportunities to undertake apprenticeships, learn, upskill and work, than on policing extended sanctions that simply don’t work.

“Labour will continue to lift incomes, support more people into employment, education and training, and ensure children get the best start in life,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

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