Child Poverty Action Group’s Associate Professor Susan St John has decried the Working for Families scheme and called for the correction of “the moral bankruptcy of a social security tax-funded payment for children that deliberately excludes the poorest children….” This follows the discovery of a data error at Statistics New Zealand, which led to an underestimate of the number of families living below the poverty line.
The new figures released from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) on 27 February reveal a worse household income situation than previously thought for Aotearoa New Zealand.
It is clear, from the revised statistics, that the Global Financial Crisis had a greater impact in 2009 on the incomes of lower-income households than originally thought. The 2011/12 figure for children living below the poverty line has been revised to 150,000 from the original 125,000. The number of children estimated to be living below the very low income line during this period has been revised to 285,000 from 265,000.
“This is a huge indictment of the failure of government policies to protect the poorest children in a recession.” Her blog on the subject goes on to quote the Court of Appeal’s finding in 2013 that the Work Tax Credit policy discriminated “with harmful effect” against 230,000 of New Zealand’s poorest children.”