National will support the Government’s proposed child poverty legislation to its first reading but won’t guarantee any ongoing support unless it agrees to amendments that will ensure it measurably improves deprivation, National’s spokesperson for Children Paula Bennett says.
“National is committed to reducing child poverty, achieving tangible results and promoting policies which are evidence-based and we know actually work,” Mrs Bennett says.
“The current Child Poverty Reduction Bill is full of positive intentions and virtue signalling but contains no substance to address the drivers of deprivation. We want to see it include succinct elements to make progress more measurable and ambitious.
“We will support the Prime Minister’s Bill through its first reading today, but further support will be contingent on the Government supporting our Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) which require the legislation to include Better Public Services targets.
“These targets will require substantial reduction in a number of measures of poverty.
“A further requirement of our support is that the Government sets more ambitious targets to reduce the number of children in material hardship.
“As it stands the ten year targets the Prime Minister has set will actually lift fewer children out of material hardship than National’s Family Incomes package, which the Government legislated against, and will actually take longer to take effect.
“We want to see the number of children in material hardship reduced from 150,000 to 50,000 in three years.
“We also want to see the number of children living in low income households reduced. National proposed to lift 100,000 children out of low income households by 2020, whereas the Labour Government only aims to lift 70,000 out. We believe that with prioritised, targeted spending, our target of 100,000 can be achieved.
“National believes our Social Investment approach is essential to targeting spending to lift children out of poverty. We will therefore be tabling a further SOP requiring the Government to use Social Investment to direct funding to families and communities so they get the resources to assist them in the way which works for their families.
“I have written to the Prime Minister outlining National’s conditional support of her Bill and my expectation that, in the spirit of bipartisanship - and of taking the politics out of child poverty – she will consider our proposals.
“A plan that will really, truly tackle child poverty must address the drivers of social dysfunction and hold the public service accountable, not just rely on the Government’s good intentions,” Mrs Bennett says.