Submission to the Social Services and Community Select Committee on the Child Poverty Reduction Bill

By Kieran Madden January 25, 2018

In response to the Government’s proposed Child Poverty Reduction Bill, Maxim Institute researcher Kieran Madden prepared the following written submission, building on his four year Heart of Poverty research series.


Submission to the Social Services and Community Select Committee

The Child Poverty Reduction Bill



Maxim Institute supports this Bill and proposes amendments to strengthen it.

Promoting the dignity of every person in New Zealand is at the heart of what we do, and this includes helping more New Zealanders participate and belong in society—to have and do the things most Kiwis take for granted.

We welcome this Bill and its potential to increase focus on poverty reduction, government accountability, and promotion of policies that transform lives.

As a “commitment device,” this Bill offers a solid legislative framework to promote policies that will reduce poverty and material hardship for whānau and families with children in New Zealand. We also believe the Bill could be improved and strengthened.

In particular, we support:

  • The broad suite of measures and inclusion of material hardship and persistent poverty
  • The mandatory setting of targets and flexibility for successive governments

We propose the following amendments:

  • Refine and advance the persistent poverty measure
  • Promote the combined low income and hardship supplementary measure to a primary measure
  • Include Child Poverty-Related Indicators in the suite of measures
  • Improve efficiency of data collection and analysis
  • Incorporate a consensual budget standards measure

We uphold the following principles:

  • Families and whānau should be at the centre of this Bill
  • Taking a whole-of-society approach is critical for success

Overall, there is significant merit in the Bill as it stands to promote accountability and spur action—but there are also several opportunities for improvements. We can do better. We believe our proposed amendments are a good first step to strengthening this Bill for the sake of struggling families and whānau in New Zealand. Whether the Government will achieve a “significant and sustained reduction in child poverty” will largely come down to their resultant policies. We welcome the requirement for the Government Strategy to improve child well-being and the Oranga Tamariki Action Plan, and look forward to seeing proposals for how these targets will be reached.

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