11 Dec 2018

Child poverty reduction bill will help cut number of deprived children - PM

12:22 pm on 11 December 2018

Ground-breaking legislation the government aims to pass this week will make inroads on the 100,000 children doing it tough, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 26 November 2018

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Ms Ardern was commenting on the latest Child Poverty Monitor report, which measures childhood deprivation in New Zealand. It concluded that one in five New Zealand children are living in homes without access to enough food or adequate healthy food and that children in the most disadvantaged communities are twice as likely to end up in hospital as those living in areas of economic and social advantage.

Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft said yesterday the findings showed New Zealand had dropped the ball on child poverty.

"The thing I find most devastating is the time it takes to turn those figures around," Ms Ardern told Morning Report today.

She believes that "ground-breaking legislation", the Child Poverty Reduction Bill, due to be debated in Parliament this week will require the current government and future governments to measure and report on child poverty and set out plans to reduce it.

"Of course, that is just laying the foundations and then it's all about what we do."

She said the Families Package that was introduced in July would help 380,000 families with increases of around $75 a week and these were families who would be represented in the Child Poverty Monitor statistics.

There was a considerable lag in seeing positive moves reflected in the figures, Ms Ardern said, however, "ultimately that is more motivation to move as quickly as we can".

Short-term indicative targets included lifting 30,000 children out of material hardship within three years and there were also 10-year targets as part of the drive for major improvements.

Asked if the number of children would fit into one Eden Park instead of two, the prime minister responded: "Ultimately as a country we should be free of child poverty. These are incremental measures."

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