New Zealand Law Society - Child Poverty Reduction Bill introduced

Child Poverty Reduction Bill introduced

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Prime Minister and Child Poverty Reduction Minister Jacinda Ardern has introduced the Child Poverty Reduction Bill to Parliament.

The explanatory note says the bill reflects Government’s intent to help achieve a significant and sustained reduction in child poverty (through a Child Poverty Reduction Act) and to enhance the overall well-being of children (through amendments to the Vulnerable Children Act 2014).

The bill's stated purpose is to encourage a focus by successive governments and society on child poverty reduction, to facilitate political accountability against published targets, to require transparent reporting on levels of child poverty, and to create a greater commitment to action by the Government to address the well-being of all children and the particular needs of children in poverty and those at greater risk.

While the bill does not itself define "child poverty", it requires the Government Statistician to decide the concepts or terms to be used.

Primary measures are specified in clauses 10 to 13, and reporting against these for a financial year is required. These include "Low Income, less than 50% of median equivalised disposable household income", both without and after deducting housing costs for a financial year, "median hardship" (to be defined by the Government Statistician) and "persistent poverty" (also to be defined).

The bill will require the setting of child poverty reduction targets, the production of independent reports relating to child poverty, adoption and publication of a Government strategy, and a focus on ensuring agencies work together to improve the well-being of children, with a particular focus on child poverty.

Bill targets announced

In a statement Prime Minister Ardern has announced three ten-year targets under the bill. These are reducing the proportion of children in low income househouses (using the before housing cost measure) from "roughly 15% of all children to 5%", reducing the proportion of children in low income households (using the after housing cost measure) "from roughly 20% to 10%", and reducing the proportion of children in material hardship from "between 13% and 15% now to 7%".