The fourth annual Child Poverty Report was released today, alongside Budget 2022.
The report describes what progress has been made in reducing poverty and what the Government is doing through Budget 2022 to reduce child poverty.
Despite the profound impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now seeing real progress on the official child poverty measures. The latest figures for 2020/21 show rates on all nine income and material hardship measures trending downwards, and two out of three of the first three-year targets achieved, with significant progress against the third target.
Budget 2022 aims to build on this, by further supporting families through the challenging economic environment ahead by direct and indirect investments to help reduce child poverty and improve wellbeing. Investments include:
- making changes to how child support payments work, so that all child support payments will be ‘passed on’ to sole-parent beneficiaries
- introducing a $350 cost of living payment over three monthly instalments in 2022 to help ease the increasing cost pressures low and middle-income families and whānau are facing
- changes to support parents to enter and remain in employment, including: providing a further increase in funding for Mana in Mahi; additional resource for the Māori Trades and Training Fund; extending the end date of the Apprenticeship Boost Initiative; driver licence support for 64,000 people
- changes to support people to remain safe and well in their homes, including: extending the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme; establishing the Affordable Housing Fund; improving the adequacy of Housing Support Products; investing in public and transitional housing
- changes to ensure children have the basic essentials, including: permanently increasing the income thresholds for access to Hardship Assistance Grants; increased Dental Special Needs Grants; continuing investment in Building Financial Capability services; reduced transport costs.
- changes in the health sector to support parents and help children get the best start in life, including: extending School-based Health Services; funding the enhanced support pilots for Well Child Tamariki Ora; investing in services to support child and young adult mental health
- changes to support families and children with disabilities, including: investing in the new Ministry for Disabled People; rollout of the Enabling Good Lives approach.
These investments will help us achieve a significant and sustained reduction in rates of child poverty and ensure tamariki in New Zealand get the very best start in life.
Looking forward, the Government will continue to work on overhauling the welfare system and addressing further recommendations from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.