National's Paula Bennett quickly takes credit for small drop in child poverty

National's spokesperson for children, Paula Bennett, has today taken credit on behalf of her party for the small reduction in New Zealand's annual child poverty numbers.

The 2017 Child Poverty Monitor data shows 12 per cent, or 135,000 New Zealand children are living in material hardship, down from 14 per cent or 155,000 in 2016.

Following the release of the report today, Ms Bennett quickly issued a statement claiming that the National-led Government's 2015 benefit increase was behind the halt recorded in the growth of child poverty across the country.

"Judge Andrew Becroft has today confirmed that since the National Government increased benefits in 2015, there has been a drop in the number of children living in low income households," Ms Bennett said.

However, Children's Commissioner Judge Becroft actually denied this connection between National's 2015 benefit rise and the 2016 child poverty dip, while speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning.

"It (National's benefit rise) had only taken effect so it would be hard to ascribe the real improvement to that," Judge Becroft said.

Judge Andrew Becroft said the fact 70,000 to 80,000 Kiwi children are living in "hardcore" poverty must change, but there is room for "cautious optimism". Source: Breakfast

"I think there was an economic improvement, and perhaps we should say the community as a whole, NGOs, charities, I think they've been doing some great work, they've been addressing things like clothes, shoes, food, family support."

Nevertheless, Ms Bennett was quite adamant about her party's direct impact on reducing child poverty.

"This is great news and further consolidates National’s track record as a party that shows it cares, rather than just says it cares," Ms Bennett said in her statement.

"We were the Government that increased benefits for the first time in 40 years.

"Since 2010 we reduced the number of children living in material hardship by 135,000 and since 2011 we reduced the number of children in benefit-dependent households by 61,000."

The 2017 Child Poverty Monitor data identifies 135,000 children in households living without seven or more items from a list of 17 considered necessary for their wellbeing.

Twenty-seven per cent, or 290,000 children, are living in low income homes where money is tight and are considered to be in income poverty, down from 28 per cent, or 295,000, in 2016.

More than seven per cent, or 80,000 children, are in severe poverty, experiencing both material hardship and living in a low income household, and that's down from eight per cent or 90,000 in 2016.  

Ms Bennett beams with joy as she is sworn in by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.
Source: 1 NEWS