The number of children living in benefit dependent households has increased by 8,000 in just over a year despite the Government’s commitment to halve child poverty in ten years, National’s Social Development Spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“The Prime Minister pledged in March 2018 – when the number of children in benefit dependent households was 168,000 – that she would reduce the number of children in poverty by 70,000 over three years.

“Instead, the number of children in benefit-dependent households has gone up, reaching 176,000 in the June quarter of this year.

“That’s the result of almost 15,500 more New Zealanders on a jobseeker benefit since the Labour-led Government came into office.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about tackling child poverty, why is she content for the number of families dependent on benefits to rise?

“What’s more, the Labour-led Government’s policies have pushed up the cost of living. Skyrocketing rents, fuel prices on the rise – these increases in day-to-day costs are directly attributable to the policies of this Government.

“Almost half a million hardship grants have been issued in the past year. Families are struggling. It isn’t kind or caring to pile on new taxes that drive up prices and hit the poorest Kiwis hardest.

“The best way out of poverty is through work. Benefits are a short-term measure to help people get back on their feet, not a long-term solution.

“National’s Better Public Service Targets focussed on the areas of education, health and crime, and successfully reduced the number of children living in material hardship.

“New Zealand’s most vulnerable families deserve the tangible results and evidence-based policies that will give them a route out of poverty and the opportunity to live better lives.”

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