Court ruling fails to uphold equity and child wellbeing
The Court of Appeal ruling released yesterday that the discrimination inherent in the In-Work Tax Credit is justified, ignores the evidence that poverty is damaging children and government policy is a central cause, says Every Child Counts.
“The suggestion that governments are justified in introducing benefits that discriminate against children and that undermine the wellbeing of children is very concerning,” said Deborah Morris-Travers, manager of Every Child Counts.
“The court case was brought by the Child Poverty Action Group and centred on whether or not it was acceptable for the government to discriminate against the nation’s poorest children, in homes with no adult working, by preventing them access to a $60 tax credit.
“While the Court has acknowledged that the In-Work Tax Credit is discriminatory and causes harm, it has said that this is justified. It is very concerning that the Court would seek to justify the harms caused by discrimination and not uphold the principles of fairness and equity especially when government policy is a central cause of that harm. Our government has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is therefore obliged to ensure that children’s right to an adequate standard of living are met in an equitable and not a discriminatory way.
“Sadly, today’s ruling means our nation’s poorest children lose. The evidence that poverty is making children sick, reducing their success in education and diminishing their long-term prospects for wellbeing is very clear. The court could have acted as a check on government policy that is discriminatory and creates hardship for children. Instead, it is justifying a policy that increases the vulnerability and hardship of families who most need our support.
“While we appreciate that there is always a need for governments to juggle priorities, decisions that discriminate against families with small children and leave them in poverty have to be questioned. The Child Poverty Action Group has done the right thing by questioning this policy and seeking a ruling on it in the court. It is a shame the outcome didn’t come out on the side of equity for all children,” concludes Ms Morris-Travers.