28 February 2012: News from CPAG
Children absent from new welfare policy
Children’s advocates say National’s mask is slipping and New Zealand is once again seeing the nasty party of the 1990s.
Child Poverty Action Group has criticised National’s proposals to work-test sole parents for once more failing to take
account of the needs of children.
“At the very time the government is consulting on vulnerable children, it is about to blow a huge hole in the safety net
provided to thousands of children whose parents are on a benefit. The Minister argues on the one hand that her first
priority is the protection of vulnerable children so she needs to explain how the interests of children and so-called
vulnerable children in particular are enhanced by these moves,” said CPAG spokesperson Dr Mike O’Brien.
CPAG is also querying what provisions will be put in place to protect parents of high-needs children.
“Only last week the Lancet published data showing children in low-income households, which includes sole parent
beneficiaries, are three times more likely to have health problems than other children. What arrangements will be put in
place to ensure those children have the support they need if they are ill or disabled?” asked Dr O’Brien.
CPAG is also critical of the proposal to send mothers back to work after a year if they have a child while on a benefit.
“The government has presented us with nothing to suggest that this is a significant problem, and this, along with their
other proposals, suggests that there is no understanding within the government that the care of children is hard work.
Indeed, children are invisible in these proposals even though they will be profoundly affected,” said Dr O’Brien.