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Source: Save the Children

Today’s launch of the Child Poverty Monitor 2022 reaffirms that much work is still needed to lift children out of poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand, with Save the Children fearing the current cost of living crisis and rising inflation will add pressure to already vulnerable families.
Save the Children’s Advocacy and Research Director Jacqui Southey says that while it is positive to see some progress on reducing child poverty overall following Government efforts to lift benefit levels, reduce transport costs and support families to pay for essentials such as household energy, the current cost of living crisis, coupled with Reserve Bank measures to curb inflation, is likely to unfairly impact low and middle-income families even more.
“The sad reality is that low-income families can’t be squeezed any harder to cut spending,” says Ms Southey.
“Instead, they will have to make sacrifices on necessities: nutritious food versus health care, rent or mortgage payments versus energy costs.
“Poverty is not felt equally, with tamariki Māori, Pasifika, and disabled children amongst those families more likely to bear the brunt of too-low incomes, especially when housing costs are taken into consideration.
“Bringing about the end of child poverty means we need to look for fairer ways to share incomes and costs, such as government policies that support income adequacy for disabled whānau. Disparities that contribute to enduring rates of poverty for disabled children and their whānau must be addressed.
“Expecting whānau on too low incomes to work their way out of poverty is unrealistic. Research released by the Ministry for Social Development earlier this year found that 75% of parents are in some form of paid work, therefore policies to ease the burden of living costs are essential.
“As we head toward next year’s Election, we urge all political parties to support sustained investment in policies that will reduce economic hardship for families, particularly for those on the lowest incomes.”
Other areas that concern Save the Children include low and falling rates of immunisations for preventable and serious childhood illnesses such as measles, high and inequitable rates of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) for pepi Māori and Pasifika infants, and the continued impact of the housing crisis with too many children living in unaffordable or precarious housing situations.
These issues were highlighted in Save the Children’s thematic report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, released earlier this year.
Save the Children works in 120 countries across the world. The organisation responds to emergencies and works with children and their communities to ensure they survive, learn and are protected.
Save the Children NZ currently supports international programmes in Fiji, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Areas of work include child protection, education and literacy, disaster risk reduction, and alleviating child poverty.