The Governments has set official targets to tackle New Zealand's problem of child poverty, one of the nation's most significant intergenerational wellbeing challenges.
The goal is to halve child poverty within a decade, and establish New Zealand as a best performing nation for children, Prime Minister and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Jacinda Ardern says.
The historic Child Poverty Reduction Act passed with cross-party support late last year and introduced the requirement for governments to report on rates of child poverty every year in the Budget and to set clear targets to reduce them.
"This is an important step in tackling head-on the long-term challenge of child poverty in New Zealand to make our country is one of the best in which to be a child," Ms Ardern said in a statement today.
"Evidence shows us that children in poverty are more likely to get sick, leave school without a qualification, sometimes struggle to get food and fall through the cracks. We know that to improve New Zealanders’ wellbeing – so much depends on the early years."
Interim targets were announced last year and following Statistic New Zealand’s recent release of baseline rates of child poverty, official targets have been confirmed today.
By 2020/21, The Government aims to lift around:
- 70,000 children out of poverty in low income households (before housing costs) – from 16 per cent down to 10 per cent.
- 40,000 children out of poverty in low income households (after housing costs) – from per cent down to per cent.
- 30,000 children out of material hardship – from per cent down to per cent.
By 2027/28, the Government aims to lift around:
- 120,000 children out of poverty in low income households (before housing costs) – from 16 per cent down to per cent.
- 130,000 children out of poverty in low income households (after housing costs) – from per cent down to per cent.
- 80,000 children out of material hardship – from about per cent down to per cent.
To maintain our ambition for halving the rate of material hardship within 10 years, the Government is seeking a reduction from 13 per cent down to 6 per cent, compared to the interim 7 per cent target. All other interim targets have been confirmed.
"The Government has already taken action on lifting between 42,000 and 73,000 children out of poverty through the $5.5 billion Families Package that gives a $75 a week boost to the incomes of 384,000 families when fully rolled out, and we’ve extended free GP visits to every child under 14," Ms Ardern says.
"The Wellbeing Budget will continue to tackle the long-term challenge of lifting children out of poverty because it’s the right thing to do for our communities and our economy."