23 July 2012: News from CPAG
Welfare Reforms Perpetuate Discrimination Against NZ’s Poorest Children
Child Poverty Action Group says the Government’s latest welfare reforms are the worst example of welfare policy it has seen for decades.
Unlike other children in New Zealand who receive state income support, children of beneficiaries will see their state income support cut by at least 50% if a parent does not enrol them for early childhood education and with a Public Health Organisation (PHO).
CPAG says the reforms will worsen the discrimination against the children of beneficiaries already in place, which has resulted in worsening wellbeing for these children. Sole parents and other beneficiaries already get at least $60 less per week for their children because they are on the benefit. CPAG spokesperson, Associate Professor Michael O’Brien said, “The impact on already poor children of a possible 50% cut is not even mentioned. The needs of children have been neglected in the reforms. Children are not important in the Government’s welfare plans.”
CPAG questions why the requirements do not apply to every child. Michael O’Brien said, “Early childhood education and access to good health care are important for all children. If the needs of children were at the heart of these reforms, the requirements would extend to all children. This amounts to an attack on beneficiaries as there are no requirements on those getting In Work Tax Credits who also depend on government support. This is the worst example of welfare policy we have seen for many decades.”
Mike O’Brien said, ”The Minister of Social Development often talks about her concern for vulnerable children. If she was truly concerned for vulnerable children she would make reducing child poverty an immediate priority.” The Prime Minister acknowledged in a recent Listener article (June 23rd) that benefit levels are too low. O’Brien said, “In light of John Key’s comments, the government’s refusal to develop an effective policy to reduce child poverty is appalling. New Zealand’s children deserve better from their government. Subsistence living is not acceptable. Children’s wellbeing must be at the centre of welfare change. Their lives are too important to be subject to the neglect which stands at the centre of current government policy.”