2014 Child Poverty Monitor shows bold action needed
The 2014 Child Poverty Monitor released this month shows that reducing child poverty will require bold and sustained commitment from government. Child Poverty Action Group welcomes the latest Child Poverty Monitor and congratulates the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the JR McKenzie Trust and the University of Otago’s NZ Child and Youth Epidemiology Service on their commitment to measuring and monitoring child poverty. The Monitor brings together all the known statistics about child poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand with current statistics on health outcomes. CPAG health spokesperson Dr Nikki Turner says, “The 2014 Child Poverty Monitor shows there has been little change over the past year and far too many New Zealand children still live in poverty. This problem is too difficult to be addressed by piecemeal measures – substantial commitment is needed to improve incomes and housing for families with children.” Nikki Turner says, “We know childhood poverty has life-long consequences for people’s health and well-being. For children to stay healthy, families need enough money for affordable, decent and stable housing, nutritious food, doctor’s visits and prescription fees. They need cooking and laundry facilities, access to hot water, soap, clean towels, clothing, shoes, bedding and basic first aid. Income adequacy is pivotal and insufficient money continues to affect children’s health, as the statistics in the Child Poverty Monitor show. There are a range of issues to be tackled and some progress is being made, such as the reduction in costs for GP visits, but income adequacy is an urgent need, particularly for our most vulnerable children.” Child Poverty Action Groups calls on the government to lead a cross-party agreement on an action plan to reduce child poverty, including: • Treating all low-income children equally. • Improving incomes significantly for low income families and access to affordable housing and healthcare for all children • Ensuring an accelerated rate of poverty reduction for Mäori and Pasifika, so they achieve equity with other children. • Introducing child poverty legislation to ensure proper, regular measurement of child poverty on a range of measures. In addition, targets and timelines for child poverty reduction should be set with annual reporting to Parliament on progress towards these targets by the responsible Minister.