Labour needs to urgently up its game if it is to ensure every child in Aotearoa has what they need to thrive, the Green Party said in response to the Child Poverty Action Group’s latest report.
“Poverty is not inevitable. It is caused by low incomes, inadequate benefits, expensive housing and childcare, and the rising cost of living. Right now we’re not seeing enough action from Labour Ministers to address these issues and provide the support low-income families desperately need,” says Ricardo Menéndez March, Green Party spokesperson for Social Development and Employment.
“Most of us want the same things for kids – a warm, dry safe place to call home, food on the table, and shoes on their feet. However, generations of kids have gone without these simple things due to successive governments’ failure to support a parent or carer’s ability to provide for their family.
“It doesn’t have to be like this. The Green Party and Labour have long shared a commitment to reduce child poverty in Aotearoa but we’ve been disappointed with the lack of urgency Labour Ministers have shown. Some welcome steps have been taken, such as the benefit increase in this year’s Budget, but these changes do not come even close to the transformative approach we need.
“There is no excuse for Labour not to have done more to lift people out of poverty. As CPAG shows, a child born into poverty today will be raising their own family before our welfare safety net is strong enough to protect all children from poverty. With the current pace of change, it could be decades before Aotearoa is a place where all children can enjoy a childhood free from hardship.
“Ensuring everyone can thrive will require further increases to benefits, an end to harmful benefit sanctions, the individualisation of our income support system, the universalisation of working for families, and an overhaul of the principles of the Social Security Act so the Government is mandated to end hardship, not just alleviate it.
“Over the last two years community groups have come together to ensure families have enough to live with dignity, but without the Government doing its part it becomes an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. The Green Party will continue to push Labour to go further, faster to support children and families living in poverty to pull through and lead their lives with dignity,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.