23 May 2015

Call for targets to cut child poverty

11:24 am on 23 May 2015

The Government needs to set targets if it is serious about reducing child poverty, a social policy researcher says.

3 year old Elisha Jamal holding up $24.49 worth of clothes.

Elisha Jamal, three, holds up $24.49 worth of clothes - equivalent to the increase for beneficiary families in Budget 2015. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Charles Waldegrave, from the Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit, said the increase to benefits in Budget 2015, which is the first rise beyond inflation in nearly 40 years, is commendable and will help many of the country's poorest children.

But, he said, the Government was still reluctant to actually track child poverty, even though internationally-recognised measures have been available for years.

"They're quite happy to have economic targets and when they don't reach say for example a surplus, they're quite open about it," he said.

"It would be really helpful if they were prepared to be as transparent about reducing child poverty. That requires very clear measures and clear targets."

Mr Waldegrave said there were about 220,000 children living in poverty and the measures in the Budget were aimed at almost half of them.

What does $25 buy you?

The Budget has provided for increased payments for beneficiary families of $25 per week after tax, starting next April.

Radio New Zealand has estimated that would be enough to buy a small trolley's worth of basic food from Pak'n'Save or several basic clothing items at The Warehouse.

Labour and the Green Party have supported the first stage of the bill to lift the benefit payments but said it was "not a plan" and children in poverty deserved a "whole lot more".

Read more stories on Budget 2015

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