Child poverty is rising because National’s perpetual beneficiary-bashing rhetoric has made it politically impossible to restore benefits to the liveable pre-1991 level (that is the main area where the last Labour government should have been bolder). Child poverty is rising because the economy has stagnated. It is rising because National work to keep wages down (they call it a “flexible” labour market). It is rising because National’s tax cuts did nothing for the majority, i.e. the low and medium income earners. It is rising because the highest inflation in 21 years (in part caused by Key’s broken promise and GST increase) is punishing those same low and medium earners. Child poverty is rising, so we’re going to keep getting bad news like this:
Our hungry kids: 40,000 NZ kids fed by charities
School principals say the number of pupils turning up for breakfast is increasing daily, despite the collapse of one of the two main breakfast programmes, a Red Cross scheme which ended this month after Countdown supermarkets withdrew their sponsorship.
A Herald investigation has found that at least 185 of New Zealand’s 256 primary and intermediate schools in the poorest 10th of the nation (decile 1) give their children breakfast or other food during the day, on top of the Government’s fruit in schools scheme.
… the total number of children being fed each week is almost certainly more than 40,000 – nearly a fifth of the 229,400 children in decile 1 to 4 schools. KidsCan is running an appeal for people to sponsor one of the 20,000 children on its waiting list for $15 a month. So far 850 sponsors have signed up.
But in a report being issued today, the Child Poverty Action Group calls on the Government to work with charities, businesses and community groups to underwrite breakfast programmes in all 463 decile 1 and 2 primary and intermediate schools. “It is time to deal directly with childhood hunger,” it says.
Manurewa Intermediate principal Iain Taylor said the problem had become so bad that children were stealing food from the school’s marae where the breakfast club was held. “It’s definitely got worse this year, without a doubt. The poverty is really obvious,” he said. …
KidsCan founder Julie Helson said demand for her programme was growing, mainly because of the rising cost of living. Food prices rose 7 per cent in the year to June, but the average hourly wage rose only 2.6 per cent in the year to March.
Making sure that children don’t go hungry is not the responsibility of charity, it is the responsibility of all of us, of society. It is the responsibility of government. The National government is failing.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are cost-effective things that the government could do. Some of that tax cut windfall for the rich would have been much better spent on children. But point that out and you only get accused of the “politics of envy”. Shame.
(Hat tip to No Right Turn for three great posts recently, all have been linked to above.)