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Source: Child Poverty Action Group

Today’s Budget was short-sighted and failed to put money directly into the pockets of families with children who are struggling to meet the most basic living costs, according to Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).
CPAG’s analysis of Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s so-called “wellbeing” Budget found New Zealand would fail in its mission to halve child poverty by 2028 using the measures set out in the Child Poverty Reduction Act (2018).
CPAG economic spokesperson Hon Assoc Prof Susan St John said poverty was stealing families’ dreams and there was little in the Budget to give people the help they needed to lift them out of poverty.
She said it was incredulous the government hadn’t made changes to Working For Families payments, which have been under review since the beginning of 2022 because parts of the system are so flawed.
“It is tiresome to hear that allowing low-income families to have sufficient income to feed their families would be inflationary. It would not. In fact, it would make the economy work better,” she said.
She acknowledged that 20 hours of free early childhood care would be a help to some families but would not give financial help to parents wanting to be their toddler’s first educator and keep them at home.
CPAG health spokesperson Emeritus Professor Innes Asher said the small and welcome changes in the Budget did not provide the keys to unlock families from poverty.
“Families in poverty are resourceful and have grit, determination to lift themselves up but they remain stuck in a system which remains broken and has many poverty traps which are not addressed at all in this budget,” she said.
“We welcome free public transport for children 5-12 years, and half price 13-24 years. However, all children under 18 should receive free public transport so they can access education and training, to meet our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she said.
CPAG also welcomed the removal of the prescription co-payment of five dollars per item as this has been an important barrier to receiving treatment in the community.
“It has been one of innumerable essential costs that low-income families have had to choose to pay instead of healthy food, but most of these other essential costs remain unaffordable,” Prof Asher said.
The Auckland City Mission has this week reported a rise in the number of food parcels it distributes from 9,000 a year 10 years ago to the current figure of 65,0000 a year.
“This represents a terrifying rise in food insecurity and this Budget doesn’t address that and this budget doesn’t put any extra money in people’s pockets to help with this,” said CPAG incomes spokesperson Prof Mike O’Brien.
CPAG convener Alan Johnson said Budget 2023 offers a number of relatively small-scale housing related initiatives which may appear significant in dollar terms.
“When spread over the years involved to roll out housing programmes and the likely cost of a new house being at least $600K to $700K, the actual impact of these budgets is in most cases quite modest,” he said.
Regardless of who we are, or what part of Aotearoa we come from, we want communities where our work raising children and caring for people is seen as important, where the wellbeing of those children is seen as critical and where we thrive as people raising kids and caring for others.
The Budget is the biggest opportunity in the year for policy makers to change the systems that lock whānau into poverty, or to opt to keep the status quo, and CPAG feels Budget 2023 has failed to deliver.