31 Jan 2018

Ardern aims to halve child poverty in 10 years

6:13 pm on 31 January 2018

The government has imposed a target for itself to roughly halve child poverty within ten years.

Jacinda Ardern makes her speech on the first 100 days of her government.

Jacinda Ardern makes her speech on the first 100 days of her government. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled the goal in a major speech in Wellington this afternoon, evaluating her first 100 days in power and looking forward.

She yesterday revealed her cornerstone legislation to ensure future governments monitor child poverty.

She has now released the targets her Labour-led government will strive for over ten years.

They are to:

  • Reduce the proportion of children in low-income households (before the cost of housing is deducted) from roughly 15 percent of all children to 5 percent. This reduces the number by more than half from 160,000 to 60,000.
  • Reduce the proportion of children in low income households (after the cost of housing is deducted) from roughly 20 percent to 10 percent. This is a reduction of 90,000 children from 210,000 now to 120,000.
  • Reduce the proportion of children in material hardship from between 13 and 15 percent now to 7 percent. This reduces the number of children in this group from 150,000 to 80,000.

Ms Ardern said they were ambitious targets that would make a substantial difference for children.

"No one has made that kind of dent in child poverty in a ten-year period," she said.

"If we successfully manage to achieve these goals, and we plan to, we will be amongst the best performing countries in the developed world."

Ms Ardern also unveiled plans for a framework that would make people a measure of the country's economic success.

She said until now New Zealand's economic progress had been measured solely by tracking GDP, but organisations like the OECD and the IMF had been urging a change.

"By Budget 2019 [Finance Minister] Grant Robertson and I want New Zealand to be the first country to assess bids for budget spending against new measures that determine not just how our spending will impact on GDP but also on our natural, social, human, and possibly cultural capital too.

"It will no longer be good enough to say a policy is successful because it increases GDP if, at the same time, it also degrades the physical environment, or drives down wages or fractures a community."

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