National keeps kids poor | The Jackal

11 Jul 2014

National keeps kids poor

We should all know by now that the current government doesn't give a rats arse about poor people. Not only has poverty and inequality increased dramatically since 2008, the numbers of children living below the poverty line is now at crisis levels.

Agencies like the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have fought long and hard to end discrimination against children from beneficiary families. They've even had some success with a recent hearing finding that the current system is creating material disadvantage. That ruling caused the government to reconsider their decision to withhold the parental tax credit and extra paid parental leave for beneficiaries.

Unfortunately the courts also said that such discrimination was allowed because it creates an incentive for people work. This seems like such a ridiculous ruling, being that most beneficiaries want to work but there's simply not enough jobs available.

There in lies the conundrum being that the government must first help to create enough well paid jobs for people to work themselves out of poverty. The government aren't doing that though, especially in rural areas and especially for ethnic minorities.

The judges ruling isn't very relevant to those who feel the greatest impact from poverty either, the children. If they're born into a poor family, the government is just saying; "oh well, too bad for you then". That's the impression one gets after reading this report from Stuff today:

The Government rejected plans to include beneficiaries in a package to help families with newborn babies, despite official advice they were the most vulnerable.

Budget papers show that last November, Treasury, Inland Revenue and Social Development jointly considered ways to give more help to families after the birth of a baby, in particular those on low to middle incomes, including beneficiaries.

Options considered included an increase in the parental tax credit (PTC) - part of Working for Families, but not available to beneficiaries - and extra paid parental leave (PPL).

Documents do not show when things changed, but by February ministers had rejected the inclusion of beneficiaries and had limited it to those in paid work.

That prompted officials to note: "Such a package would be targeted solely at families in paid employment. The children most at risk are those from beneficiary families and this package would not provide additional assistance to them."

In effect the government has chosen to leave most of the 260,000 children who are living in poverty exactly where they are. It seems that those on hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollar salaries simply don't care if poor families can meet the basic needs of their children.

In fact it appears that the government is determined to entrench poor people in poverty so that there's an underclass of New Zealanders that they and their rich mates can look down upon. That's not the type of policy direction we should accept in this great and prosperous country. It's certainly not the type of administration our forbears fought so hard for.

If you give a damn about the next generation having a fair go, might I suggest you vote to change the government at the September 2014 election. Because without a change in government we can pretty much count on poverty and inequality becoming a lot worse under this National led regime.