11 Feb 2011

Child poverty rates back to level of five years ago

6:27 am on 11 February 2011

The Salvation Army says the Government is focusing too much on the economy and closing the gap with Australia at the expense of the most vulnerable New Zealanders.

The organisation's fourth state of the nation report shows child poverty rates have risen to where they were five years ago.

Violence toward children and youth unemployment have not improved.

Salvation Army social policy unit director Major Campbell Roberts says the report is entitled Stalled because meaningful social progress has ground to a halt.

He says the political leaders' focus is on becoming more like Australia, which is no vision at all.

Major Roberts says it makes good economic sense to invest in children now because they are the workers of the future.

Child advocacy coalition Every Child Counts says every Government policy, from tax to housing, should be evaluated according to its impact on children.

The Green Party says the report shows the Government has no vision for closing the gaps for needy families.

MP Metiria Turei says the Prime Minister's recent pronouncements about work testing and time limits for benefits will push more children below the poverty line.