12 Feb 2014

Child poverty seen as timebomb

6:31 pm on 12 February 2014

The Salvation Army's latest State of the Nation report claims the level of child poverty in New Zealand is a timebomb and virtually no effort has been made to address it.

The seventh edition of the annual review says the number of cases of child abuse has risen, and domestic violence remains the most common type of violent offending.

The Salvation Army says despite all the attention on child poverty, little has been achieved and significant policy changes are needed.

It also says the shortage of affordable housing in Auckland has deepened, and rents in Auckland and Christchurch are becoming even less affordable.

There were some positives in the report, including a fall in the teenage pregnancy rate and more young people leaving school with better qualifications.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says New Zealand has one of the world's most generous welfare systems.

But Alan Johnson, who wrote the report, told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Wednesday it is not the dollar value that counts and the high cost of living is eroding the value of benefits, leaving people in poverty.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the Government doesn't want to be held accountable by implementing the Children's Commissioner's recommendation to monitor poverty measures annually.

But Paula Bennett said the Government is more interested in action that needs to be taken on poverty.