Child-poverty report reveals bleakness of young lives

The Child Poverty Monitor Report 2015 makes for very bleak reading, Labour’s MP for Manukau East Jenny Salesa says.

“It illustrates the reality in South Auckland, where entrenched hardship is severely affecting many children’s health, education and future prospects.

“The hike in the number of Kiwi kids living in poverty is a disgrace – 305,000 children, up 45,000 since last year.

“Poverty rates for Pacific and Māori children are consistently higher than for Europeans. Around a third of Māori children and 28 per cent of Pacific children live in poor households, compared to an average of 16 per cent of European children.

“Nearly 148,000 children are going without the basic things they need in life.

“And three out of five children living in poverty are living in “persistent poverty” – that is, they will live that way for many years, if not their whole lives,

“Far too many continue to live in cold, damp, mouldy homes, which trigger respiratory or infectious diseases. Their parents sometimes cannot afford to pay for medicines. This has led to significant increases in the number of children hospitalised with poverty-related health issues – now around 40,000 children per year, Deborah Morris-Travis reported early in 2015.

“I agree with Duncan Garner’s recent comments that the sheer cost of housing is a major driver of child poverty.

“Poor health and education outcomes are made worse by overcrowding, which is endemic in areas like Ōtara and Ōtahuhu because of spiralling rents in Auckland’s crisis-ridden housing market.

“About 16 per cent of children live in overcrowded conditions. Māori, Pacific and Asian children – the majority demographic of my electorate – are reported to be significantly more likely than European children to live in a crowded house. Almost half of Pacific children live in crowded homes.

“We are now seeing homeless children. The recent CAB report on emergency accommodation need highlighted the lack of options for those pushed out of rented homes with nowhere to go. Too many young children are living in cars without access to basic hygiene requirements let alone a bed.

“The Government’s scattergun approach is not making progress bringing down New Zealand’s OECD-leading rates of child poverty.

“It must take child poverty seriously before it gets any further out of hand, ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and damaging this country’s future.

“Lifting low incomes is very much part of the solution as is a commitment to regular measurement and concerted action on the results.

“It is heartening to see the Children’s Commissioner’s #itsnotchoice campaign attracting great public support and I hope this can be leveraged to dismantle the causes of child poverty.

“The future of our children and our country is of the utmost seriousness to Labour. As Labour Party children spokeswoman Jacinda Adern has said, we will take on the production of the Child Poverty Monitor every year and would publish the results at every budget,” Jenny Salesa says.

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