Government ramps up drive to reduce child poverty

  • Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister Child Poverty Reduction

Two expert units have been established within the Prime Minister’s Department to develop the Coalition Government’s strategy to improve child wellbeing and make historic progress in reducing child poverty in New Zealand, says Prime Minister and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Jacinda Ardern.

“This Coalition Government is committed to genuinely tackling child poverty so that New Zealand becomes the best place in the world to be a child,” says Jacinda Ardern.

“In a country as wealthy as ours we have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure children are free from the burden of poverty. That’s why we are embarking on a bold plan to reduce poverty and material hardship rates for Kiwi children to historic lows. 

“The Child Poverty Unit will advise on policies that affect poverty among children and coordinate the Government’s work to reduce poverty and material hardship throughout New Zealand.

“The Child Wellbeing Unit has been tasked with developing the Government strategy to improve the wellbeing of all children in New Zealand. Part of this unit’s work will be leading public consultation later this year on policy priorities for the strategy.

“My Child Poverty Reduction Bill requires Governments to set their own unique targets to reduce child poverty and hardship rates over a 10-year period. This ensures constant progress towards improving life for children.

“It also requires the Government to develop a comprehensive strategy to promote the wellbeing of all children and report on disparities in education, health and other outcomes for children in poverty and at socioeconomic disadvantage,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Budget 2018 includes $7.9 million of operating funding over four years to establish the Child Poverty Unit. The Wellbeing Unit will be funded by Oranga Tamariki.

The Government is also improving the information collected by Stats NZ about New Zealand families. 

“We need to know the accurate baseline rates of poverty and collect the best possible data, both to make the right decisions and to track our progress in improving children’s lives,” says Statistics Minister James Shaw.

“The next Household Economic Survey (HES) will collect data from a much greater number of households. That will improve the accuracy of current measures of poverty and allow regional and ethnic breakdowns. Larger sample sizes will give us a more robust and reliable picture of the incomes and living standards of smaller population groups, such as Māori and Pasifika families,” says James Shaw. 

Budget 2018 provides $25.7 million of new operating funding over the next four years to give Stats NZ resources to increase the sample size of the HES to 20,000 households – up from between 3,500 and 5,000 households in previous years.