Confirmation from the Children’s Commissioner that the growth in child poverty has been halted is largely due to initiatives introduced by National.
Judge Andrew Beacroft has today confirmed that since the National Government increased benefits in 2015, there has been a drop in the number of children living in low income households.
This is great news and further consolidates National’s track record as a party that shows it cares, rather than just says it cares.
We were the Government that increased benefits for the first time in 40 years.
Since 2010, we reduced the number of children living in material hardship by 135,000 and since 2011 we reduced the number of children in benefit-dependent households by 61,000.
Labour Government neglects
Child poverty is a serious issue that we remain committed to working hard on.
It needs to be recognised though that the complex issues that are the causes of hardship are often intergenerational.
That is why it is extremely concerning that (Prime Minister) Jacinda Ardern and her Government have not committed to retaining either the Social Investment approach, or the Better Public Services targets we implemented.
Our drive has been – and will always be – to root out the source of the problem through sophisticated data-driven risk analysis, followed up with solutions that work for the individual on a case-by-case basis.
Judge Beacroft points out that for children to flourish and thrive, sustained progress is needed.
Real Solutions for hardships
It is, therefore, both surprising and extremely disappointing that the new Government intends to abolish our Family Incomes Package. This would have lifted around 50,000 children out of poverty, by one OECD definition.
These are real solutions for real hardship. Labour has made big proclamations about putting child poverty reduction targets into legislation, but they’ve baulked at putting a number to those targets.
National left the new Government a great opportunity to further reduce child poverty with strong job growth, budget surpluses and our Social Investment toolkit to root out the causes of hardship.
As an Opposition party, we will hold the Government to account and ensure it steps up and delivers more than just slogans.
Paula Bennett is an elected Member of Parliament from Upper Harbour and National Party’s Spokesperson for Children.