22 Feb 2024

Child poverty: More families going without household essentials

11:19 am on 22 February 2024
A toddler climbing in a playground.

A new report captures the number of New Zealand families struggling with poverty. Photo: 123RF

The latest Child Poverty statistics show more families are going without household essentials due to the rise in the cost of living.

Stats NZ released its annual data on child poverty for the year ended June 2023.

The data is based on nine measures set out in the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018. It is gathered through a mixture of interviews with households and data.

Two of the three primary measures of child poverty had increased on the previous year.

One in six children (or 17.5 percent) lived in households with less than half of the median household disposable income after household costs - that was up 3 percentage points on last year.

Fresh groceries sit on the kitchen table of a low income family's home.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

One in eight children (12.5 percent) lived in households experiencing material hardship, meaning they were likely to go without fresh fruit and vegetables, doctor's visits, or good shoes.

That was an increase of 2 percentage points on last year.

General manager of social and population insights Abby Johnson said these increases reflected heightened inflation.

"We have seen an annual increase in material hardship, indicating that more households were going without some of the essentials due to cost."

"We also saw that, for many households, incomes after deducting housing costs did not keep up with inflation, leading to an increase in one of the low-income poverty measures."

One in eight children were living in low income households with less than half the median disposable income before housing costs - about the same proportion as last year.

However, the statisticians said as there were "inconsistencies" in the data for the 2021 to 2023 year due to Covid-19 lockdowns, it was difficult to determine whether an annual change had occurred.

For tamariki Māori, Pacific children and disabled children there was no significant change on 2021 to 2023 year.

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