20 May 2021  Media Releases

Benefit increases a good step towards ending child poverty

Benefit increases announced today will help relieve hardship among some families, but much more is needed to significantly improve children’s lives now, and meet poverty targets in the future, Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft says.

The Government announced today increases in benefits for families with children ranging from $36 to $55 per week, and promised a review of the Working for Families tax credits and accommodation supplement, as part of Budget 2021.

“This is an important and significant step forward for children living in poverty and hardship and is well on the way to meeting the Government’s 10-year poverty targets,” Commissioner Becroft says.

“However I’m worried that the needs of children now are still not being adequately met. More than 125,000 children are living in material hardship, and Māori, Pacific and disabled children figure far too much in that group. Their wellbeing needs to be specifically targeted for improvement.

“Children deserve happy and healthy childhoods now, and that means more big and bold changes both now, and in the future.

“We also support many other initiatives in the budget that will help children, including better childcare assistance, expansion of free school lunches, and the commitment to review the Working for Families scheme and the accommodation supplement.

“I hope to see the maximum accommodation supplement indexed to housing costs, and rules introduced to prevent landlords increasing rents at the lower end of the market so they don’t gobble up the increases.

“After decades of tolerating child poverty and hardship, New Zealand has an opportunity to choose a better course. It’s great to see the Government setting the direction for progress. Child poverty is solvable, if we continue to have the will to do it,” Commissioner Becroft says.