12 Aug 2015

'Government's child poverty plan won't cut it'

2:28 pm on 12 August 2015

MPs have been told an extra $25 a week for beneficiary families will not go far enough to lift children out of poverty.

The Social Services Committee is hearing submissions into the Government's Support for Children in Hardship Bill.

Lunch box.

Child poverty groups are worried the Government action on child poverty is insufficient. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

In its submission, the Nurses Organisation says $25 a week would have a very limited impact, if it had one at all.

Leaha North, who works at Wellington hospital, told MPs she often spoke to parents who had delayed seeking medical treatment for their children due to the cost.

"$25 per family is not enough money with the high cost of power and food to these families, let alone with a sick child."

Judy Whitcombe from the National Council of Women agreed that struggling families needed a bigger increase to make a difference.

"Many see it as having a negligible impact on a family's overall situation, given high property rental fees or other accommodation costs, and other rising living costs."

Under the bill, solo parents on a benefit will now be required to look for 20 hours of work a week once their youngest child turns three. They previously weren't required to seek work until their youngest child was five.

Dr Whitcombe said council members were worried about parents being forced into low-paid jobs while also having to pay professionals to care for their children.

The bill will be reported back to Parliament by November.