The Government has pulled back from earlier hints of new Budget initiatives tomorrow to deal with child poverty.
Late last year, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley told Radio New Zealand ministers were working on a package of measures for tomorrow's Budget to address child poverty.
Mrs Tolley's remarks followed on from Prime Minister John Key promising to make the issue a priority in this parliamentary term.
But Finance Minister Bill English now says, while there will be some money, people shouldn't expect major new spending.
"There'll be a continuation of the Government's approach, which is to focus on those families in persistent deprivation.," Mr English said yesterday.
"Often in Budgets, there's a focus on quite large-scale, expensive programmes - or has been in the past. We can't afford large-scale, expensive programmes."
But the Child Poverty Action Group's economics spokesperson, Susan St John, said if the Government was serious about the issue, it would extend in-work tax credits to beneficiary families.
"What they really need to do is to take a hard look at the way in which the family incomes policies work, and recognise that Working For Families ... has got some major flaws that manage to exclude more than 200,000 of the poorest children from its full benefits."
The Government seemed to think getting people into work was a cure-all, Ms St John said.
Children's charity UNICEF estimates 260,000 children are living in poverty - and 110,000 in what it calls severe poverty - and says the government was failing them.
National advocacy manager Deborah Morris-Travers told Morning Report the government could make an immediate difference by increasing benefits and fixing tax credits.
"We're talking here about very small children in New Zealand living in inadequate housing without nutritious food.
"This is the land of milk and honey, and quite frankly the government is failing to ensure that these small children have got what they need."