Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Minister pledges new approach to address child poverty

Worsening child poverty rates support the Coalition Government’s focus on reducing the cost of living and getting people into work, Child Poverty Reduction Minister Louise Upston said today.

New figures released by Stats NZ show child poverty rates have increased, with the rising cost of living, driven by inflation, making it harder for families to afford the basics.

Stats NZ data for the three primary measures show that in 2022/23:

  • 12.5% of all children (143,700) were in material hardship – up 2@ compared to 2021/22;
  • 17.5% of children (202,100) were in poverty, based on household income after housing costs have been paid – up 3.1%;
  • 12.6% of children (146,000) were in poverty, based on household income before the costs of housing are paid – up 0.9%.

“This Government has inherited major challenges, and it’s clear a new approach is needed to addressing child poverty,” said Minister Upston (pictured).

“The number of children living in material hardship has barely shifted in six years. In 2016/17, 139,600 kids lived in households that were unable to afford essentials. This increased to 143,700 in 2022/23.

“Another 50,200 children are also living in benefit-dependent households compared to when National last left office, and I’m committed to turning this around.”

The Minister said supporting parents into paid work and breaking the shackles of welfare dependency will be the cornerstone of the Government’s strategy for lifting families out of hardship and reducing child poverty rates.

“We also plan to lift the incomes of working households experiencing hardship by providing tax relief, easing mortgage pain, unlocking housing supply, making childcare more affordable, and lifting skills and education to provide our children with greater opportunities,” she said.

“We’ve already committed to increasing the Working for Families In-Work Tax Credit from next year, putting up to $25 more per week into the pockets of low-and-middle-income working families. This tax credit hasn’t gone up since the National Government increased it in 2015.

“We’re also bringing in our FamilyBoost childcare tax rebate, which is expected to help 130,000 low-and-middle-income families keep more of what they earn, with up to $75 more in their after-tax pay each week.

“This Government is committed to bringing down the cost of living and helping lift more families and their children out of hardship.”

The full release by Stats NZ is available here.

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