CPAG - Hero of the Week | The Jackal

22 Jul 2012

CPAG - Hero of the Week

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

The Child Poverty Action Group is very pleased the Court of Appeal has today granted leave to appeal against the decision of the High Court in relation to its claim of discrimination against the 230,000 children of beneficiaries. The claim relates to the In Work Tax Credit which is part of Working for Families, a package that has a key aim to alleviate child poverty.

Spokesperson Susan St John said, “Children whose parents are on benefits are excluded from this child payment. The parent may have illness, disability or caring responsibilities or be unemployed because of the recession or earthquake. The In Work Tax Credit provides significant weekly financial support to families with children ($60 for the first 3 children plus $15 for each child thereafter). This support has been denied to children living in all beneficiary families and many are in serious hardship.”

“New Zealand must wake up to the systemic causes of child poverty. Agencies are reporting that the child poverty they are seeing is at its worst for 30 years. It is time to hold the government to account for its policies. It does not have to be like this.”

The government seems to be blind to the advantages of giving all children a healthy start in life. There are many implications to a childhood of poverty, and it can greatly affect adults later in life, regardless of their socio-economic conditions. People who grow up impoverished are more likely to have long-lasting ill health, especially poorer cardiovascular and dental health.

Some studies have also shown a decline in emotional and personal wellbeing with poor people more likely to commit suicide.  There is no doubt that child impoverishment which includes inadequate housing, poor nutrition and hygiene, can lead to substance abuse, lower educational achievement and poorer life prospects generally.

All of these things cause a huge decline in productivity and economic viability. Therefore it doesn't just come down to affordability, because the ramifications from 230,000 children growing up impoverished is costing the country billions in additional health care alone. Being that there's no economical excuse for having so many impoverished children in New Zealand, we can only guess at what the government's motivation really is?

Child Poverty Action Group has been fighting the government over the issue of discriminating against children of beneficiaries for a long time, and only their perseverance and belief that they're doing the right thing will ensure a change. They are undoubtedly heroes, and fully deserve this week's award. Keep up the good work.