Submissions invited on Child Poverty Reduction Bill

Image: Pixabay

The Child Poverty Reduction Bill has been referred to the Social Services and Community Select Committee. Submissions are being accepted on the bill until 4 April 2018.

The Child Poverty Reduction Bill amends the Vulnerable Children's Act 2014, in addition to requiring targets and measuring progress towards reducing child poverty.

A press release from the Social Services and Community Select Committee provides a brief overview of the purpose of the bill:

"The bill aims to reduce child poverty and improve the overall wellbeing of children. The purpose of the bill is to:

    • encourage governments and society to focus on reducing child poverty
    • hold governments to account against published targets
    • require transparent reporting about levels of child poverty.

To achieve its purpose the bill would specify child poverty measures and ensure agencies work together to improve the wellbeing of children. It would also require:

    • specific child poverty targets to be set 
    • reports about child poverty to be produced and published independently of Ministers 
    • the Government of the day to adopt, publish, and review a Government strategy for improving the wellbeing of all children, with a particular focus on child poverty and the needs of children at greater risk."

The Bill Digest explains that there are three parts to the bill. Parts 1 and 2 focus on child poverty measures and reporting. These two parts would become the Child Poverty Reduction Bill. Part 3 would rename the Vulnerable Children's Act to the Children's Act, require a Government strategy for improving the wellbeing of children and require an "oranga tamariki action plan." This would become the Children’s Amendment Bill. 

In Part 3, the Government strategy would be required to address:

"(a) improving the well-being of all children; and (b) improving, as a particular focus, the well-being of children with greater needs; and (c) reducing child poverty and mitigating impacts of child poverty and of socio-economic disadvantage experienced by children; and (d) improving the well-being of the core populations of interest to the department (namely, children with early risk factors for future statutory involvement, those who the department works with, and care-experienced children, as specified in section 9(1)"

Also in Part 3, the oranga tamariki action plan would be required to focus on improving wellbeing for:

  • children who have early risk factors for future involvement in statutory care, protection, and youth justice systems 
  • children receiving assistance or in care or receiving transition support from the department 
  • children who are any persons aged less than 21 years who have been in care under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 or who are eligible for support under section 386A of that Act.

Among other things, the oranga tamariki action plan would be required to address:

"(a) protecting them from abuse and neglect:
(b) improving their physical and mental health and their cultural and emotional well-being:
(c) improving their education and training and their participation in recreation and cultural activities:
(d) strengthening their connection to their families, whānau, hapū, and iwi, or other culturally recognised family group:
(e) increasing their participation in decision making about them, and their contribution to society:
(f) improving their social and economic well-being (for example, by reducing, or mitigating the impacts of, poverty)."

More information about making a submission on the bill is available online.

National’s spokesperson for Children Paula Bennett has said National would support the bill through the first reading "... but further support will be contingent on the Government supporting our Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) which require the legislation to include Better Public Services targets."

National's Better Public Service targets have previously been criticised by the Salvation Army and others.

See the media below for additional commentary.

Related news

Treasury has published several papers on measuring wellbeing in New Zealand. Chief Economic Adviser Tim Ng said “The papers are part of a programme of Treasury work to further develop our Living Standards Framework. We are beginning to use this framework to consider the collective impact of policies on intergenerational wellbeing, and to help lift the quality of policy and government services from a wellbeing perspective.”

Other Government Submissions currently open

Submissions are being accepted on the Families Commission Act Repeal Bill until 16 March 2018.

Submissions are being accepted on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill until 30 March 2018.

Selected media

Reforming the welfare state, Opinion: Jonathan Boston, Professor of Public Policy, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, The Dominion Post, 20.02.2018

National digs itself into child poverty hole, Newsroom, 20.02.2018

Ardern aims to halve child poverty in 10 years, Radio NZ, 31.01.2018

Cross-party support essential if we're to reduce child poverty, Opinion: Unicef NZ Director Vivien Maidaborn, Stuff, 31.01.2018

Bill must provide a commitment to eradicate poverty, Press Release: Auckland Action Against Poverty, Scoop, 31.01.2018

Government reveals new child poverty measures and law to force reduction targets, Stuff, 30.01.2018

A long-term child poverty plan, Newsroom, 30.01.2018