10 Mar 2015

One in six children in poverty - research

5:54 am on 10 March 2015

One in six New Zealand children are going without things most people take for granted, such as a raincoat, a sturdy pair of shoes, their own bed to sleep in or lunch to take to school, researchers say.

Academics Jonathan Boston, Professor of Public Policy at Victoria University and Simon Chapple, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Otago, have released a new book as the Government works on plans to deal with child poverty.

They say 17 to 18 percent of children cannot afford things others consider necessities.

The Child Poverty Debate argues the 2008-2012 Global Financial Crisis hit children far harder than retired New Zealanders and most other groups.

By 2013, only 7 percent of older New Zealanders were officially deemed to be poor, by having less than 60 percent of the median income, after housing costs.

That compares to 22 percent of children.

The pair use another criterion, known as the material deprivation rate, which aims to describe the things people do not have because they cannot afford them.

They use these figures to portray a world in which many children have to go without things other people say are essential.

After the last election, Prime Minister John Key said he would address the question of child poverty in the next budget, and officials are understood to be working on ways to achieve this.

Professor Boston said it was very comforting that Mr Key acknowledged the seriousness of the problem, but there was a lot to achieve, it was going to cost a lot of money and he feared Government plans would not go far enough.

Another thing that could easily be done would be to index benefits to wages, rather than linking to inflation, as is the present system, which means beneficiaries never got ahead, he said.

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