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Call for urgent action on child poverty

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/12/2016

A stock image of child poverty © Getty Images A stock image of child poverty New Zealand has been warned that a third generation of children is in danger of being entrenched in poverty.

Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft says setting targets and creating a plan to prevent that from happening are well overdue and vital.

Child Poverty Monitor 2016, released by the commissioner's office, shows that 295,000 children (28 per cent) are in low income homes.

Around 90,000 (more than 8 per cent) are in severe poverty.

"This is not the New Zealand I grew up in nor is the New Zealand most of us want," Judge Becroft said.

He said the time had past for "distracting debates" about whether there should be measurements and targets for reducing child poverty.

In any case, New Zealand already had a target as a signatory to the UN's Sustainable Developments Goals, which included halving poverty in all its forms by 2030.

"This is a challenge for the whole country," Judge Becroft said.

"It must be a government-led plan all New Zealanders can work towards. It should involve business, community and non-government groups."

The Monitor - a joint project by the Children's Commissioner, the J R McKenzie Trust and Otago University - is in its fourth year.

Judge Becroft said that, while New Zealand's economy continues to grow and prosper, there had been real improvement in child poverty rates.

"New Zealanders are starting to wake up to the serious problem we face," he said.

"We are in real danger of creating pockets of a third generation of ingrained poverty, which seriously impacts children's health, ability to learn and contribute to society."

KEY DATA FROM CHILD POVERTY MONITOR 2016

* 14 per cent of children (155,000) are in households living without seven or more items - from a total list of 17 - considered necessary for their well-being;

* 8 per cent (or 85,000) are in even worse material hardship in households without nine or more items;

* 28 per cent (295,000) are in homes where money is tight and are considered to be in income poverty - up from 14 per cent in 1982

* More than 8 per cent (90,000) are in severe poverty.

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