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Labour MP bites back against claims they failed to deliver on child poverty in Government

Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni has defended efforts of the Labour-led government to combat the country's damning child poverty statistics. 

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Louise Upston says in order to improve child poverty, the focus first needs to be on strengthening the economy. Source: 1 NEWS

Child Poverty Action Group told Q+A's Jack Tame they were disappointed with the extent of the actions the Government had taken to reduce child poverty, given the problem was so large and had such serious consequences. 

"It's too early to tell how the current government has done on child poverty but I think it's fair to say that to a certain extent, they have over promised and under delivered," spokesperson Janet McAllister said. 

However, Sepuloni has fired back, noting the government has helped to see 18,000 children lifted out of poverty since they have been in Parliament. 

She said they had taken "very serious steps" towards reducing the level of children living in poverty throughout New Zealand but it was a long process for reaching significant change. 

"We have been taking very serious steps to addressing child poverty but it was never going to be just one action that is going to be able to resolve the issue that is at hand." 

However, National Party spokesperson for social development Louise Upston criticised the Government's inability to maintain their promise of lifting 100,000 children out of poverty by this year, as set out in their 2017 policy announcement. 

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Her comments come after a damning UNICEF report ranked New Zealand near the bottom of wealthy counties for wellbeing of children. Source: Breakfast

"I think the reality is though, unfortunately we have seen child poverty go backwards in the measure that is the most significant to the actual lives of these children is the material hardship measure".

Upston said that if the National Party was elected, the focus for child poverty would be to prioritise strengthening the economy to help boost incomes to families in hardship. 

"What we have to do is first of all address the economic issues our focus is going to be getting parents in to jobs and getting the economy back on a level footing."