7 Jan 2017

Govt told to tax the top to help struggling youth

5:28 pm on 7 January 2017

Many people could be prepared to pay more tax to help disadvantaged young people, the children's commissioner says.

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft.

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Judge Andrew Becroft says inequality is one of the biggest challenges the country faces and it should be ashamed, embarrassed and worried about some of the statistics.

He said there were 85,000 to 90,000 under 18-year-olds doing it tough, while New Zealand's over 65-year-olds were some of the most advantaged in the world.

Judge Becroft said people in higher income brackets should be volunteering to pay more tax if it meant more help for those most in need.

He said the government shouldn't assume that small tax increases would be a disaster.

"It may not actually be political suicide.

"If it could show that a small tax increase at the top level was going to be used to help the most disadvantaged in an effective I think many New Zealanders would sign up for it on the spot and say 'Go for it'.

He said there was no miracle cure in dealing with the issue of child poverty, and a broad approach was needed.

"The government will need to take the lead but we can't just to allow the government, or assume or tell the government they've got to solve it for New Zealand. It will involve businesses, it will involve the NGO sector, it will involve the whole community.