Today the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group (EAG) report will be released, apparently. In anticipation of this Tim Watkin and Bomber have posts on the poverty issue:
Figures released on Thursday show 21% of children now living in poverty, median household incomes fell 3% while the richest amongst us had their salaries soar leading us to having the highest levels of inequality on record.
How much did the wealthy gain? The average increase in 2011 for executives was $28, 311. That pay rise is more than a minimum wage worker earns in a year, and it get’s better for CEO’s. In 2011 our richest bosses earned on average 22.5 times more than the workers working for them.
Borrowed tax cuts for the wealthy, forcing beneficiaries back to work when there are no jobs, higher unemployment, weaker unions, cut backs to public services and higher GST all have social consequences and we are now seeing the terrible harvest from those social consequences.
This indicates the scale of the problem and the raft of changes that need to be made to provide any significant improvement for NZ’s children.
Watkin offers some possible actions that he guesses might be in the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group report.
First, the group will call for a Warrant of Fitness for landlords.
Second, it’ll call for meals to be provided more widely in schools.
…Third, the EAG is expected to call for some form of long-term and universal state assistance for kids – maybe a Universal Child Benefit, or some money every week for every child born. Until 1991 we had such a thing – a Family Benefit. That went in the Bolger/Richardson years.
I think the first (rental property WOFs) would be hardest to implement. But this and the other two would go some way to alleviating the immediate dire situation. The UCB would have the longest, most far reaching impact, followed by the meals at school.
But, until the vast levels of inequality are reduced, Watkin’s steps will just be a life raft, not a sustainable destination.