Taking action to reduce child poverty Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Source: Beehive New Zealand, 30 January 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today released her Child Poverty Reduction Bill to drive a significant and sustained reduction in child poverty that lasts beyond successive governments.

"For a country with relative abundance, New Zealand has the opportunity, and the moral obligation, to ensure children are free from the burden of poverty," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"For too long, too many of our children have lived in poverty and hardship. Economic growth alone, while a crucial part of the solution, has not fixed this.

"This Government is committed to genuine change to tackle poverty and help ensure New Zealand becomes the best place in the world to be a child. Introducing this Bill is a key promise in our 100 day plan.

"The Bill is the framework for measuring and targeting child poverty. It sets in law four primary and six supplementary measures of poverty and material hardship. It requires the government of the day to then set targets to reduce child poverty.

  "We have not included individual government targets in the Bill. We want to leave room for each government to determine their own child poverty reduction ambition. This Bill is about building consensus on behalf of children.

"We will be making our targets available in time for the public to submit on them, alongside the Bill, as part of the select committee process.

"We know targets are not enough. The Bill requires governments to develop a comprehensive child well-being strategy that keeps child poverty top of mind, and keeps the focus on improving the living standards of children.

"We're already taking action to reduce child poverty and hardship. Our Families Package will increase the incomes of many families by meaningful amounts and children will be much better off through our commitment to restore funding in education, and health while also growing the economy.   

The Bill specifically requires governments to:

  • Set ten-year targets on a defined set of measures of child poverty and periodically set and publish three-year targets.

  • Develop and report on a strategy to promote the overall wellbeing of children, which will include a particular focus on reducing child poverty. 

  • Report, on Budget day, how the Budget will reduce child poverty, and how the Government is progressing towards its targets.

"The Bill requires the Government Statistician to report, independently from government, trends in the range of measures specified in the Bill in order to give a comprehensive picture.

"The Bill includes a suite of four primary and six supplementary measures in order to properly monitor the financial and material disadvantage of children, and provide valuable international comparisons.

"Tackling and measuring child poverty is complicated and demanding, but our children are relying on us to act.

"I am committed to achieving a significant reduction in child poverty and I want to create a framework that is durable enough to require future governments to do the same," says Jacinda Ardern.