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Welfare Working Group Bad For Children, Say Critics

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Welfare Working Group Bad For Children, Say Critics

The release today of the Welfare Working Group's (WWG) issues paper is a missed opportunity, says Child Poverty Action Group. Instead of offering up some constructive ways to make welfare relevant in the 21st century, it has manufactured a crisis that doesn't exist, the group says.

While the group is pleased the WWG has taken account of children, it is disappointed the report has failed to recognise that working does not always result in the best outcome for children.

Spokesperson Donna Wynd says the report has overlooked research showing that working parents can be very stressful for children, especially when not working can result in loss of income.

"We also know from our own research and overseas studies that children and young people are vulnerable to behavioural problems when sole parents work. The report should have acknowledged this. As well, the improvements in income that come from working usually come from government subsidies, and there is no discussion about whether these are more sustainable than paying parents a benefit."

The group is also alarmed at the prospect of a two-tiered insurance-based system.

"The working group has been told that insurance cements in existing inequalities, but have chosen to ignore this advice. Instead, they now concede we may end up with a two-tier system, with one tier for those with insurance, and a much lower level of support and private charity for those who are uninsurable.

Children are already over-represented in New Zealand's poverty statistics, and this proposal will mean that the poverty they and their families endure will be even deeper and more difficult to escape," said Donna Wynd.

CPAG says the government has invented a crisis and children in benefit dependent households look set to suffer.

"New Zealand may have a crisis, but it is a crisis of inter-generational poverty. Until the government comes up with a credible plan to create the jobs it wants sole parents to get, it would be better off offering additional support to all low-income families to help children escape poverty."

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