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Calls for increase in benefits following Child Monitor Report release

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Today’s release of the Child Poverty Monitor is a joint project of the Children’s Commissioner, Otago University and the JR McKenzie Trust, designed to track the Government’s progress towards child poverty targets.

The report shows poverty is declining overall and is on track to meet the governments targets, with 11% of all children experiencing material hardship. However it’s a different story for Māori and Pasifika tamariki, with one in five Māori households experiencing material hardship and one in four Pasifika households.

Almost half of Pasifika children, 45% and 30% of Māori children lived in households that sometimes or often ran out of food, compared to 16% of all other children.

The Child Poverty Monitor report is using the Household Economic Survey data collected in 2019/2020 prior to COVID. The disparities we are seeing in this report don’t reflect impacts of COVID.

Barnardos CEO Mike Munnelly says the data clearly shows that rising rents and house prices are having a disproportionate effect on Māori and Pasifika families. This, on top of the economic effects of COVID, is creating stark divisions in equity and those divisions are only getting wider. "The way government responds to this perfect storm could have a tangible and positive impact on children’s lives. Raising benefits, while not the only answer, is the quickest and easiest way to raise household incomes for those most in need".

The government’s recent lift in Family Tax Credits from 1 April 2022 is a step in the right direction but won’t go far enough to address rising inequities for those struggling the most. An average increase of $20 a week will not fill the gap says Munnelly.

"We’re seeing this first hand with our work in South Auckland. Tamariki have borne the weight of the pandemic as more families fall further into poverty. Over the past few weeks we've reached over 900 whānau in South Auckland alone. Many of our whānau have had the added burden of increasing food costs, mounting debt and other household costs, all the while supporting their tamariki and whānau. We’ve seen children unable to access online learning because there’s no internet or devices in the home.

While we welcome the governments focus on child poverty, COVID has changed the game and more needs to be done to alleviate the growing inequities says Munnelly.

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