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We are fighting child poverty: English

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/12/2016 Sean Martin

Prime Minister Bill English says the government has a two-pronged approach to fighting child poverty and he denies it is doing nothing.

Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft is warning the country is in danger of a third generation of children being entrenched in poverty, with 295,000 children (28 per cent) now in low income homes and around 90,000 (more than 8 per cent) in severe poverty.

Setting targets and creating a plan to prevent that from happening are well overdue and vital, Judge Becroft says.

The National government has long been accused of not making child poverty a priority.

But Mr English said the government was trying to address the problem in two ways.

One was through raising incomes and he referred to last year's benefit increases.

"The other, probably harder, bit is to deal with the complex circumstances which lock people into deprivation for a long time," he told Newshub on Tuesday.

"And that's usually a combination of offending, welfare dependency, family violence, low education levels.

"We've got a fairly good set of tools now for addressing that pretty directly."

Judge Becroft said while the government's measures were good, they were individual changes, rather than part of a coherent plan.

"The necessity now is to sit back and say: 'What is our plan? What's the coherent approach?'," he told Newshub.

He said it would take until 2017 or 2018 to see the benefits of some of the government's measures.

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