Reaction mixed on social welfare
Moves to tackle child poverty have been largely welcomed by those in the sector, but advocates say beneficiaries have been left out in the cold in this year’s Budget.
The Government has set up two units within the Prime Minister’s Department to tackle child poverty and Oranga Tamariki — Ministry for Children gets a total of $269.9 million over four years to expand its services.
The Child Poverty Unit, which will receive $7.9m over four years, will advise on policies that affect poverty among children and co-ordinate the Government’s work to reduce poverty and material hardship.
The Child Wellbeing Unit will develop a strategy to improve child wellbeing.
An extra $25.7m for Statistics New Zealand would improve information collected about Kiwi families, helping to create a clearer picture of poverty, the Government said.
However, the Budget did not allocate funds to remove Section 70A, which reduces the benefits of single mothers who refuse to name the father of their child.
Auckland Action Against Poverty co-ordinator Ricardo Menendez said he was disappointed the $25m a year was not allocated to change section 70A, when $100m was being spent on the America’s Cup.
Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft welcomed the focus on reducing child poverty, critical towards improving child wellbeing.
However, while Social Services Providers Aotearoa welcomed the focus on helping the country’s most vulnerable families, they said it bypassed essential services which were in need of more funding.