Salvation Army calls for further action to help tens of thousands of children in poverty | The Salvation Army

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Salvation Army calls for further action to help tens of thousands of children in poverty

Crying child comforted by mother
Posted March 23, 2023

The Salvation Army is calling for the Government to do more to help the tens of thousands of children who continue to live in poverty.

Statistics NZ released today the child poverty statistics for the year ended June 2022. The statistics show no significant change compared to 2021.

‘There are still up to 177,000 children whose households are below at least one of the primary child poverty lines,’ says Lt-Colonel Ian Hutson, the director of The Salvation Army’s Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit.

‘Despite high levels of employment and incomes rising, the gap between families on lower incomes and those on middle and higher incomes is not closing fast enough.

‘This is not surprising when there are over 209,000 children in households relying on government income support. Many of those households with children have incomes below one of the official poverty lines. Working families on low incomes need extra help too. 

‘Children in households where their parent(s) and caregivers cannot take on paid work because of illness, disability or simply the need to be at home and parent young children, are the most at risk of poverty. They are the children who will benefit most from direct government assistance to lift them out of poverty,’ says Lt-Colonel Hutson.

‘The Salvation Army urges the government to go beyond recent announcements that simply adjust some welfare payments for inflation. We are calling for further increases in core benefit rates, Working For Families and Accommodation Supplement housing support payments to levels that ensure families on lower incomes have enough to meet the costs of basic participation in society,’ says Lt-Colonel Hutson.

‘In April 2022 Government officials estimated that incomes for different types of households that rely on welfare support were between $47 and $277 per week short of what is needed. Since then, living costs have risen further and government support must respond to ensure there is enough money for essentials like paying the rent, healthy food, energy costs for heating and lighting, adequate clothing and footwear as well basic health care needs.

‘Don’t wait until 2028 to reach child poverty reduction targets. Make the changes now and ensure that in future years all payments as well as thresholds for abatement and eligibility for benefits are adjusted for inflation or average wage increases (whichever is higher).

‘We know what works to help families in need. Our social workers and financial mentors see the stress and harm for families who simply do not have income enough to get by. Budgeting advice and food parcels are not a substitute for lack of income.

‘We are a wealthy country and even in the tough times ahead, there is no reason why the people who are already struggling must be forced further into poverty.

‘Our political leaders have a choice to make, and we call on our leaders to choose what is right for children today and in future years,’ says Lt-Colonel Hutson.

The Salvation Army Territorial Media Officer, 021 945 337, email: (The Media Officer responds to enquiries from media outlets and journalists. If you would like to donate, are in need of help, or have some other non-media-related enquiry, please call 0800 53 00 00.)