Source: Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
To inform voters about which policies most effectively reduce child poverty, CPAG’s election scorecard shows our assessment of the efficacy of announced party policies in income adequacy, housing security and health equity.
Alleviating income poverty for children
Our research shows a key element in reducing child poverty is improving incomes for beneficiaries and low-paid workers. The high rates of poverty for Māori and Pacific families require urgent attention and effective action. Offering a bit more to only some families in poverty is not enough. Any plan to lift children and their families out of poverty needs to be comprehensive and transformative. The Green Party and the Māori Party are both offering numerous policies which would lift many children out of severest poverty. Labour is offering a sensible plan to bridge the gap between welfare and higher education and paid work, which will help those whānau for whom paid work would be beneficial but who currently are unable to afford to make that jump. NZ First offers a universal family benefit, but it is unclear what current spending they would wish to reduce for this to happen. National postponing the minimum wage raise would be detrimental to children in low-income households whose caregiver/s are in paid work. Act would reduce benefits, a cruel and punitive policy.
Achieving housing security for children Adequate housing security for children depends on there being a sufficient supply of affordable housing for families alongside fair tenancy laws which support tenure security. During the COVID-19 recession amazingly house prices have continued to rise on account of monetary and banking policies and the failure to tax wealth and capital gains. Tinkering with the RMA or building regulations or alternative tenure options like co-housing and progressive home ownership is merely window dressing. Policies which tax housing wealth and discourage excessive consumption in lavish houses and second and third homes will begin to address the huge imbalance in housing markets which has contributed to a chronic shortage in affordable housing. Housing policies of the Greens and Maori Party are the only ones which attempt to address this imbalance.
Ensuring the health system supports equity of outcomes for all children
Any policy that truly assists in closing the health-inequity gap for our children will acknowledge that the current system is discriminatory and has racist consequences which need to be pro-actively addressed through ensuring empowered Māori leadership. In order to close gaps, the system needs to ensure other communities are also empowered and included in health service decisions – this is more likely to happen in a genuine Treaty partnership model than the system we currently have.
We assessed the announced policies of parties that have been represented in parliament over the past two terms.