All of us agree that we should have a more egalitarian society in which everyone has enough to live on, a warm safe place to live, and the means and support they need to learn and thrive.
The new government's draft law to reduce child poverty, the Child Poverty Reduction Bill, takes steps towards this vision by setting the measures to define poverty and setting the targets for reduction. It holds them responsible for putting into place a strong and enduring child wellbeing strategy. We now have a chance to have our voices heard on why this is so important.
We’ve worked with the Child Poverty Action Group to develop this submission guide. Submissions close on the April 4 so make yours now. A group of politicians on the Social Services and Community Select Committee are eager to hear your views and so here’s your chance to be part of a crowdsourced submission on the draft law.
Summary of the draft law:
The Child Poverty Reduction Bill sets out a broad framework and set of targets for reducing the alarming rates of child poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand. It requires regular reporting on these targets to make sure successive governments are held to account for reducing child poverty. You can read more about the draft law here.
How the draft law could be improved:
Child Poverty Action Group experts have applauded the draft law and have provided several suggestions in their submission on how it can be strengthened:
Increase funding to focus on solutions
The Bill sets out several target areas and gives power to a range of government departments to put in place ways of achieving them. We recommend additional resourcing is provided to make sure these policies are put in place quickly to solve the problems and the departments don’t just focus on measuring the issues.
Measure and report on rates of child poverty more frequently & set measures now
Currently there is long time gap between the measurement and reporting of some child poverty reduction targets. We recommend increasing the regularity of reporting to speed up the reduction of child poverty by allowing for quicker changes to policies if required.
A key measure ‘persistent poverty’ is only due to be defined in 2025. This measures the number of people who remain without enough to live on for long periods of time. Because it will be a long time before we know what this measure means for families, it's important that other methods should be found in the meantime to identify families who go without having enough to live on for extended periods of time. The 40% AHC measure, which evidences how many children are in families who have the lowest incomes, therefore could be moved up to being one of the main measures, instead of a supplementary one.
Make sure everyone has an adequate standard of living
An adequate standard of living should be used as a benchmark for thresholds of child poverty. This should be developed with independent consultation with families to understand what’s needed for children to have enough to thrive.
The rights of children to be able to thrive, and to achieve their full potential are fundamental
A framework for upholding children’s rights should underpin a Child Wellbeing Strategy, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that was ratified by New Zealand in 1993.