The Child Poverty Budget Report, released today alongside Budget 2023, describes the progress made in reducing child poverty since the targets were set in 2018. It also highlights Budget 2023 investments that will support families and whānau living in poverty with cost of living pressures.
Despite the profound impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and challenging economic conditions, we are seeing sustained progress on the official child poverty measures. The latest figures for 2021/22 show statistically significant reductions in eight of the nine child poverty measures since 2017/18. Furthermore, all three primary measures are now lower than they have been over the past 10 to 15 years for which comparable data is available.
Budget 2023 aims to build on this momentum, focusing on investments that will help address the ‘cost of living’ pressures on low-income families and reduce household costs, including:
- extending 20 hours Early Childhood Education to two-year-olds, supporting families and whānau with the cost of childcare (with estimated savings of up to $133 per week)
- improving accessibility and take up of MSD childcare assistance (10,000 additional children eligible, benefitting eligible two-parent families by an additional $252 per week, and sole parent families by an additional $92 per week)
- removing $5 prescription co-payments for all New Zealanders. An estimated 135,000 adults did not collect their prescriptions because of cost in 2021/22. This is particularly the case for low-income families and whānau
- providing half price public transport to everyone aged 13 – 24 years and Total Mobility Passengers, and free public transport for children aged 5 – 12 years, making approximately 770,000 additional people eligible for half price or free fares
- making half price public transport permanent to around one million Community Service Card holders, including eligible tertiary students
- extending and expanding the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme to reduce household electricity consumption, helping households with the cost of living by lowering energy bills.
There are further initiatives in the Budget that will make a material difference to the lives of families, whānau and children living in poverty, including:
- further changes in the education and childcare sector to ensure equity, affordability, and accessibility
- changes to support parents to enter and remain in employment (eg permanently reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance, and further funding for employment programmes)
- further investment in public housing
- changes to ensure children have their basic needs met (eg investing in the community food sector, continued funding of Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches Programme and the establishment of the Children and Young People’s Commission).
These initiatives will make a difference in the day-to-day lives and the long-term prospects of families, whānau and children, by improving access to key services that support health and wellbeing, and addressing barriers to parental employment.
Looking ahead, a key Government priority is supporting New Zealanders facing cost-of-living pressures – particularly low-income households and those affected by extreme weather events, including Cyclone Gabrielle and recent flooding. It remains committed to reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing, and making Aotearoa New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child or young person.