Child Poverty Budget Campaign
Go to www.actionstation.org.nz for more information and to join this campaign
A major campaign on child poverty was launched on Monday 4th May to run in the lead up to the budget and following. The campaign has been developed by ActionStation and a group of key children’s advocacy organisations (UNICEF, CPAG, NZ Council of Christian Social Services + Tick for Kids partners) and will make a strong call for real change for children.
ActionStation surveyed its members about the issues they want to take action on in 2015 and ‘child poverty’ and ‘inequality’ were ranked first equal with ‘climate change’ so it is clear that this is an issue their members care deeply about and want to campaign on.
Real Action, Real Change
The campaign will centre on an ActionStation online petition calling for real change for children.
The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of the long term harm caused by child poverty and focus attention on the need for Government to address the underlying policy and structural drivers of poverty, including family incomes.
The campaign will focus on:
- Creating real change for children by addressing the underlying causes of poverty
- Treating children as well as we treat our elders (principles of non-discrimination and inclusivity)
- A call to government to include the children who currently miss out on full child-related tax credits and boost the incomes of the poorest families.
The campaign partners will carry out a range of communications activity to boost the campaign including media statements, interviews, social media activity, op-eds and communication with Members of Parliament.
Increasing incomes for families with children makes it easier for parents to meet their children’s needs.
Parents know best what their kids need and ensuring their income is adequate allows them to get more fresh food, warm clothes, heating for the house, and enable children to participate in normal things like school trips, swimming lessons, music lessons and other educational opportunities. The government doesn’t need more cumbersome programs to deliver support, just give the parents tools (and resources) to help their kids thrive.
Research published by Superu (formerly the Families Commission) shows that some parents are missing out on meals to be able to meet the needs of their children (www.superu.govt.nz/lowincomefamilies)
All the available data internationally shows that, with few exceptions, parents in low income households prioritise the needs of their children. When they have additional income it is the needs of children which are given first priority. Moreover, New Zealand expenditure data shows that low income and beneficiary households spend less on alcohol, drugs, tobacco and gambling and a greater percentage of their income on food than high income households.
Government is obliged by international law to ensure that all children have a standard of living that enables their physical and mental development. That is not happening in New Zealand. Government should provide support to families to ensure they can meet their children’s needs. Children need to be healthy, educated, and have a sense of belonging to participate in New Zealand society.
Children also have a right to the highest attainable standard of health and it’s clear that those living in poverty are unable to achieve this. (60 babies under the age of 1 die each year from poverty-related illness; 40,000 hospitalisations from poverty-related illness each year)
Scale of the Problem
The government currently spends $6b-$8b each year mopping up the costs of poverty and its effects. That cost is made up of the high health needs of children in poverty, remedial education, justice costs, and lower productivity downstream when children don’t get the best start in life. If we spent just a portion of this – $1bn – we would significantly improve the standard of living, health and wellbeing of children, while also strengthening our economy.
Most effective way to improve children’s lives
The most effective, efficient way to improve the lives of children living in the poorest homes in New Zealand is to increase the income coming into those homes. This is a problem which can be fixed by ‘throwing money at it.’
This is about priorities
We can afford to invest in its children if we choose to. This is about our Government making the youngest and most vulnerable citizens a priority and recognising its role in supporting parents.
The options for raising $1bn would need to be carefully considered but they could include taxing high income earners or introducing housing taxes. It’s also worth noting that the 2010 tax cuts stripped $1bn out of Government coffers, which could have been targeted towards the children in most need.
Go to www.actionstation.org.nz for more information and to join this campaign now.