11 Dec 2012

Report on child poverty offers hope - Maori Party

5:37 pm on 11 December 2012

The Maori Party says a report on child poverty is a glimmer of hope, and it will push the Government to pick up its recommendations.

The commissioner's expert advisory group released its final report on Solutions to Child Poverty on Tuesday.

The report's 78 recommendations span housing, education, health and social welfare. It said an additional 2000 units of social housing should be supplied each year until 2020, all rental properties should have a warrant of fitness, and a food in schools programme should be implemented.

The Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the Maori Party is angry about the level of poverty in New Zealand. She says she wants all Government ministers to read the report and give it serious consideration.

The Government has ruled out one recommendation, for a universal children's allowance, but says it will consider others, including a warrant of fitness for some rental accommodation.

The Children's Commissioner says the benefits from alleviating child poverty will more than outweigh the money invested.

Commissioner Russell Wills told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme that child poverty costs society up to $8 billion dollars a year, which could be reduced if the Government invested a fraction of that amount.

Advisory group member Major Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army said there is a desperate shortage of state housing and an insufficient supply of social houses. He said there needs to be a greater investment in housing and an improvement in the quality of existing properties.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett told Morning Report the conclusions need careful consideration. "There's things like the warrant of fitness for housing that I certainly think has merit, but it's not something you can roll out next week. There are sometimes unintended consequences like rents going up."

Ms Bennett says the Government is spending money on renovating state houses.