Budget could have done more on child poverty

Auckland diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission has praised aspects of the Government’s 2022 Budget, delivered on May 19, but has added that much more could have been done.

In a statement released shortly after the Budget was delivered, the JPC acknowledged that there is much
in the 2022 Budget that addresses social inequities, and the Government’s efforts were commended, given the
difficulties that the world has been facing in recent times.

“However, there are areas where we believe much more could have been done, particularly in the area of
child poverty,” the statement added.

JPC spokesperson Loraine Elliott commended the Government’s 2022  Budget efforts to address school attendance issue by supporting initiatives that work for local communities to deal with engagement and attendance. This is particularly helpful for Māori and Pasifika communities that have suffered badly from the 2014 withdrawal of funding that would have helped schools to address this.

Ms Elliott added that stable, affordable, warm and dry housing is a fundamental necessity for the wellbeing of all people in New Zealand, especially children. In spite of various initiatives in recent years, the Government has not faced the housing crisis head on, the JPC stated. There were 26,865 households on the Housing Register waiting list for public housing as at March 31, 2022, an increase of 13.4 per cent since March, 2021, the JPC statement continued.

“Although the Government is on record saying that it has been building the greatest number of public
housing units of any government for many years, the list is not reducing.”

The statement added that, in spite of some current small reduction in values, inflation and interest rate
increases only compound the problem for first home buyers. The three Budget measures announced sound
positive, the statement continued, but more information is needed about how they will assist people to
purchase their own homes.

Concerning child and family poverty, the JPC statement noted: “We are pleased with the temporary $350
cost of living grant for people earning less than $70,000 per year, but stunned that Budget 2022 contains
almost nothing to alleviate child and family poverty.”

“We are disappointed that the Government has not backed up their Budget 2021 attention to the injustice of the 1991 slashing of base rates of Social Welfare payments to some of our most vulnerable families, that has
led to decades of inter-generational poverty,” Ms Elliott said.

“It would have been helpful if this initiative had continued this year to enable so many families to support
themselves with dignity, particularly as costs have increased so much recently. The silence of Budget 2022 on this is astounding.” she said.

Turning to the topic of climate change measures in the Budget, the JPC stated that the Government’s
emissions reduction plan to bring down the nation’s carbon emissions signals the beginning of long-term
carbon budgets, but will need to include agricultural emissions as well.

The statement concluded: We welcome the Government’s support to reduce transport emissions, by
improving access to public transport by extending the 50 per cent reduction in fares, as well as a vehicle
replacement scheme for low-income households. We also commend the continuation of the Warmer Kiwi
Homes initiative which helps fund heating and insulation upgrades for low-income households.”

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