The Government has today confirmed the first set of official targets to break the cycle of child poverty, one of New Zealand’s most significant intergenerational wellbeing challenges.
“This is an important step in tackling head-on the long-term challenge of child poverty in New Zealand to make our country one of the best in which to be a child,” Prime Minister and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Jacinda Ardern said.
“Evidence shows us that children in poverty are more likely to get sick, leave school without a qualification, sometimes struggle to get food and fall through the cracks. We know that to improve New Zealanders’ wellbeing – so much depends on the early years.”
The historic Child Poverty Reduction Act passed with cross-party support late last year and introduced the requirement for governments to report on rates of child poverty every year in the Budget and to set clear targets to reduce them.
Interim targets were announced last year and following Statistic New Zealand’s recent release of baseline rates of child poverty, official targets have been confirmed today.
“The Coalition Government’s plan will halve child poverty within a decade and establish New Zealand as one of the best performing countries for our kids. That’s what New Zealanders expect from a country like ours,” Jacinda Ardern said.
3 year targets:*
• By 2020/21, we aim to lift around:
o 70,000 children out of poverty in low income households (before housing costs) – from 16% down to 10%
o 40,000 children out of poverty in low income households (after housing costs) – from 23% down to 19%
o 30,000 children out of material hardship – from 13% down to 10%
10 year targets:*
• By 2027/28, we aim to lift around:
o 120,000 children out of poverty in low income households (before housing costs) – from 16% down to 5%
o 130,000 children out of poverty in low income households (after housing costs) – from 23% down to 10%
o 80,000 children out of material hardship – from about 13% down to 6%
“To maintain our ambition for halving the rate of material hardship within 10 years, we are seeking a reduction from 13% down to 6%, compared to the interim 7% target. All other interim targets have been confirmed.
“The Government has already taken action on lifting between 42,000 and 73,000 children out of poverty through the $5.5 billion Families Package that gives a $75 a week boost to the incomes of 384,000 families when fully rolled out, and we’ve extended free GP visits to every child under 14.
“The Wellbeing Budget will continue to tackle the long-term challenge of lifting children out of poverty because it’s the right thing to do for our communities and our economy,” Jacinda Ardern said.
The official targets have today been set by notice in the Gazette and published on the DPMC website.
* Some figures have been rounded
The most recent child poverty data (mid-2017 to mid-2018) shows us that around:
• 180,000 children are in poverty on the before housing costs primary measure (16%)
• 250,000 children are in poverty on the after housing costs primary measure (23%)
• 150,000 children are in poverty on the material hardship primary measure (13%)
*The four primary measures of poverty in the Act:
1. Low income before housing costs (below 50% of median income, moving line)
2. Low income after housing costs (below 50% of median income, fixed line)
3. Material hardship (using the DEP-17 score of 6 or more, measuring going without things such as healthy food, suitable clothes, or delaying going to the doctor)
4. A persistence measure (for low income, material hardship or both. The data is not currently available for this measure – the Act requires reporting on persistent poverty from 2025/26 on.)