Chapter 4 Priority Recommendations
This is a short chapter setting out the most important recommendations.
The first step: In our view, the first step must be to establish an overall framework for reducing child poverty. We have provided four recommendations aimed at the Government implementing a strategy and improving accountability for addressing child poverty. These include recommendations for establishing a suite of poverty measures, specific poverty-reduction targets, a separate set of child poverty-related indicators, and a comprehensive monitoring and reporting framework. …
We already know that this Nat government has refused to implement any official measure of poverty, so they aren’t going to act on the other recommendations either. It will be up to the next Labour-led government to follow these practical and well structured suggestions:
Our initial priorities for immediate attention at relatively low-cost:
- pass-on child support payments from non-custodial parents to eligible sole-parents who are on state-provided benefits: costs can be kept relatively low by beginning with a pass-on of $10 per week per eligible child (Recommendation 13)
- ensure that all rental housing (both social and private sector) meet minimum health and safety standards, according to an agreed Warrant of Fitness: this can be implemented in a staged and cost effective way by beginning with piloting innovative approaches at a local community level (Recommendation 20)
- investigate and implement a public-private-partnership micro-financing model with the banking sector and community groups, with the aim of providing modest low-interest and zero-interest loans, as a mechanism to help low-income families access affordable credit and effectively manage debt: for a very modest government investment, the private banking and voluntary sector can make this a success (Recommendation 48)
- design and implement a collaborative food-in-schools programme, commencing with decile 1 to 4 primary and intermediate schools: this will support schools, community organisations and businesses to implement successful local initiatives (Recommendation 60)
- ensure that young people who are pregnant and/or parenting receive effective support to remain engaged in education: a small investment now will go a long way to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty (Recommendation 63)
- support effective delivery of local services through community hubs by providing information and advice on developing hubs and partnering with local groups to fund start-up of feasible initiatives: supporting local initiatives is an effective way to build on the strengths of a local community to address child poverty (Recommendation 66).
Our initial priorities over the longer-term:
- commission an independent and comprehensive review of all child-related benefit rates and relativities, with a primary goal to reduce child poverty (Recommendation 10)
- create a new income support payment for families with dependent children to replace
- a number of the existing benefits and tax credits, called the Child Payment. The Child Payment would be allocated to 100 percent of children aged 0 to 5 years inclusive; have the highest value during the first year of a child’s life and reduce as the child ages; and be targeted based on family income from age 6 years onward (Recommendation 11)
- address the serious undersupply of social housing for families with children living in poverty by taking immediate actions to increase the number of social houses by a minimum of 2,000 units per year until 2020 (Recommendation 22)
- signal the critical importance of children’s health by continuing to implement free primary care visits for all children 24 hours/7 days a week from birth to age 5 years inclusive; extending free visits over time to all children to age 17 years inclusive; setting specific targets to make timely progress towards 100 percent free coverage of primary health care (Recommendation 52).
The rationale for these recommendations is discussed along with the full list of recommendations (78 of them no less) in the next chapter.
Once again I can hardly keep up with the relevant news this week, I will focus on just one example. Mana’s “Feed the Kids” campaign is receiving widespread support. Here’s another important group weighing in:
Save the Children Supports New Campaign For Food In Schools
Save the Children New Zealand is behind the Community Campaign for Food in Schools, which launches today and the child rights organisation is calling on New Zealanders to let the government know just how important it is to ‘feed the kids’.
“The food in schools campaign is about taking care of our children. The level of child poverty in New Zealand has doubled over the last 30 years and is quite simply unacceptable. All of us, including government, have a role to play in tackling this issue” said Save the Children New Zealand chief executive Heather Hayden.
A Ministry of Health Survey found that 20.1 percent of New Zealand households with school-age children did not have enough food for active and healthy living. …
“As a signatory to the United Nations convention on the Rights of the Child, the New Zealand government is obliged to ensure that children realise their right to an adequate standard of living. As part of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of its, we urge the government to take the issue of food in schools – and our children’s futures – seriously.” …
“We often talk about living another day in paradise. The reality is that thousands of children in New Zealand go to school too hungry to learn and develop. That’s not right. Through this campaign we are calling on the public, parents, families, communities – all of us – to tell the government to play their part and feed the kids,” she said.
03 February 2007
National launches its Food in Schools programme
National Party Leader John Key has announced the first initiative in what will be a National Food in Schools programme. “National is committed to providing practical solutions to the problems which Helen Clark says don’t exist,” says Mr Key.
During his State of the Nation speech on Tuesday, Mr Key indicated National would seek to introduce a food in schools programme at our poorest schools in partnership with the business community. …
“We are going to put together the package while in Opposition. We are not waiting to be in Government, because all our kids deserve better.”
Such is the difference between the Nats’ glib promises in opposition – and their actions in government.
Here’s the standard footnote. Poverty (and inequality) were falling (albeit too slowly) under the last Labour government. Now they are on the rise again, in fact a Waikato University professor says that poverty is our biggest growth industry.
Before the last election Labour called for a cross party working group on poverty. Key turned the offer down. Report after report after report has condemned the rate of poverty in this country, and called on the government to act. Meanwhile 40,000 kids are fed by charities and up to 80,000 are going to school hungry. National has responded with complete denial of the issues, saying that the government is already doing enough to help families feed their kids. Organisations working with the poor say that Key is in poverty ‘la la land’.
The Nats refuse to even measure the problem (though they certainly believe in measurement and goals when it suits them to bash beneficiaries). In a 2012 summary of the government’s targets and goals John Armstrong wrote: “Glaringly absent is a target for reducing child poverty”…
The costs of child poverty are in the range of $6-8 Billion per year, but the Nats refuse to spend the $2 Billion that would be needed to really make a difference. Even in purely economic terms National’s attitude makes no sense.