7 Aug 2008

Elimination of child poverty urged

9:19 pm on 7 August 2008

The Government is being urged to set an overall goal for the elimination of child poverty.

A joint report issued by the Children's Commissioner and the organisation Barnardos says an estimated 230,000, or 22%, of children in New Zealand are living in what it calls "unacceptable poverty".

The report says this number is more than the population of North Shore City.

While there have been improvements in recent years in areas of health, education, benefits and housing, the report says firm committments and targets are still needed to reduce child poverty.

It urges the Government to implement a comprehensive suite of policies including reviewing the adequacy of core benefits, increasing paid parental leave, expanding rental housing and setting an overall goal for the elimination of child poverty.

The report shows that child poverty rates are significantly higher amongst Maori and Pacific Islanders and children from solo-parent families.

It suggests changes to child support payments and recommends passing on child support to custodial parents who are on benefits.

Currently the money is paid into a consolidated fund, to offset the benefit cost.

Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro says the change would mean about $330 million flow to families who are living below the poverty line.

Dri Kiro says a similar change in Australia is estimated to have helped about 60,000 children.