Saturday, July 20, 2024

Child poverty rate defies COVID pressures

The Annual Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Child Poverty Report shows child poverty continuing to decline in the face of COVID-19 economic pressures, Prime Minister and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, Jacinda Ardern said today.

“Despite COVID-19 causing the greatest global economic downturn since the Great Depression in New Zealand we have continued to lift children out of poverty over the past two years and avoided to date the spike in poverty we saw during the Global Financial Crisis a decade ago,” Prime Minister Ardern said.

“In particular we have seen reductions in material hardship and increases in both before and after housing cost incomes for those on the lowest incomes, including a 40% increase in after housing income for those on a Main Benefit since 2018.

“When COVID hit we purposefully put in place policies to avoid the spike in child poverty that occurred during the GFC, and today’s report shows those policies have been effective so far.”

The Prime Minister said Government initiatives like the Families Package, minimum wage increases, benefit increases, and Food in Schools had all contributed to reductions in poverty.

“In addition, the wage subsidy and investments in skills and training through COVID has delivered record low unemployment, meaning we have avoided to date the big increase of children living in jobless households that was seen in the GFC,” said Ms Ardern.

“We have learnt from the mistakes of previous Governments and delivered a response to COVID that has sought to avoid the economic scarring for the majority of children and families unlike in previous economic downturns.

“While there is strong evidence in this report that things have been broadly improving for the worst off kids, I know there are still a core group of children in New Zealand that lead very hard lives and there is more work to do to fix that. 

“I’m proud of what the Government has achieved to date, but remain committed to delivering ongoing reductions in child poverty in order to make New Zealand best place in the world to be a child for all kiwi kids.” 

She said the Government had remained steadfast in its commitment to reducing the number of children living in poverty and hardship.

“…And today’s report shows that our Government’s suite of actions are making a real difference in children’s and families lives,” said Minister for Social Development and Employment, Carmel Sepuloni. 

“Our Government’s once in a generation improvements in support for low and middle income families have reduced the number of children in poverty and our investments in support for businesses and workers like the Wage Subsidy and Flexi-Wage has resulted in Main Benefit uptake being lower compared to after the GFC.

“We are getting record people into work, with around 113,000 people moving off benefit and into work in the last year. 

“This shows the Government’s investment in employment and training along with our constant lifts in income support is continuing to deliver meaningful change. 

“We know people are still feeling the impacts of cost of living pressures, but through our welfare reforms and investments in education, employment and training, we have a plan to tackle the long-term issues facing New Zealand,” Ms Sepuloni said.

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