The Salvation Army’s annual State of the Nation Report confirms a large number of economic and social improvements created by the National Government’s stewardship, National Party spokesperson for Social Development Louise Upston says.
“The State of the Nation report publishes a number of key social indicators like jobs, incomes, housing and benefits, and it’s fantastic to see so much positive improvement in so many areas.
“Today’s report acknowledges those improvements – particularly in the areas of job creation, income growth, declining benefits and lifting children out of material deprivation.
“National’s robust economic management gave us choices to tangibly improve people’s lives.
“During our term in office we raised the minimum wage from $12 an hour in 2008 to $15.75 in 2016/17. That’s an increase of 31 per cent – more than twice the rate of inflation.
“We increased benefits for the first time in 40 years and, since 2011, reduced the number of children living in benefit-dependent households by 60,000.
“Perhaps most notably though, since 2010 we reduced the number of children living in material hardship by 135,000.
“Improvements like this show how vital it is to measure progress with the likes of our Better Public Services targets.
“They have helped lead to real improvements in everything from a 31 per cent reduction in youth crime, halving the proportion of 18-year-olds not achieving NCEA Level 2, and a gradual downward trend in reported crime.
“I call on the new Government to set aside its ideological dislike for these targets and to adopt them so the likes of the Salvation Army can continue to report on both improvements and areas that need ongoing work,” Ms Upston says.