Child poverty facts: PM ‘misleading’

child poverty

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is refusing to take responsibility for the country’s damning social statistics; in particular child poverty.

Amid the growing need for food banks and the accusation that Ardern, has done nothing to address the issue of child poverty, the Prime Minister told One News that she needs more than one term to reduce poverty.

Ardern told One News “not all” of her Government’s policies “have worked as well as we intended.”

“It does take time, though, to turn around long-term problems, so that’s why we do food banks in the meantime.”

However, Child Poverty Action Group spokesperson Janet McAllister told Q+A’s Jack Tame said that the Ardern government had “over-promised and under-delivered.”

McAllister said the Government had failed to reach their goal for lifting Kiwi children out of poverty.

Ardern who says she came to Parliament to address child poverty, says she wants another three years in order to make progress.

“When we came into government, of all of the (child poverty) measures we use – and we use about nine – seven of them were getting worse. In the short time we’ve had, we’ve improved those so that seven are now better,” Ardern claimed during the first leaders’ debate.

She said that one of the first things her government did was to set a goal to end child poverty.

However, various groups are saying that actions speak louder than words and setting a target is merely aspirational and it is delivery that counts.

During the debate, National leader, Judith Collins said the Government had done nothing to address the issue of child poverty and media organisation AAP FactCheck also labelled Ardern’s claims to be misleading.

“While recent figures show seven child poverty measures have slightly improved, the changes were not statistically significant and only partially cover the first year of the Labour Coalition Government,” AAP FactCheck said.

Using data from Stats NZ, AAP says child poverty figures for the year ending during the previous government, June 2017, show six measures improved on the previous year and three measures worsened.

“The figures for the year ending June 2018 – encompassing the period the Labour coalition came to government – show seven measures were getting worse compared with the previous year,” reports AAP FactCheck.

They described the slight improvement in seven child poverty measures during the Ardern leadership as “not statistically significant.”

A spokesperson for Ardern said AAP FactCheck “is wrong”, however the Socialist Equality Group concur with AAP.

“The reality is that the latest data showed only small changes to child poverty levels, within the margin of error.”

“The number of children living in households below the poverty line of 50 percent of the average household income (after housing costs are deducted) dropped just 2 percent from 253,800 in 2018 to 235,400 in mid-2019.”

The group says that if more up-to-date figures were available the results would be worse and is predicting that as a result of COVID-19, they expect 70,000 more children will plunge into poverty.

“The median income has fallen by 7.6 percent in the past year. The number of people receiving an unemployment benefit soared by 53 percent, or 77,000 people, from March 21 to the end of August. The Ministry of Social Development says 16 percent of people could be receiving some form of benefit by January,” the groups goes on to state.

National Party spokesperson for social development Louise Upston criticised the Government’s inability to maintain their promise of lifting 100,000 children out of poverty by this year, as set out in their 2017 policy announcement.


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