Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Still indecent

The annual Child Poverty Monitor was released today, showing that 295,000 children were living in poverty and 90,000 in severe hardship. While the percentage has dropped since last year, by the numbers that's more than ever before, and it certainly doesn't constitute any real progress. Which is understandable, given that the government's response to these reports has ranged from sticking their fingers in their ears through bureaucratic obfuscation and denial to bullshit victim blaming. But no matter which way they spin it, the problem is real. And as the government, its their responsibility to do something about it.

National has done one good thing: raised benefits for the first time in 40 years. But that hasn't flowed through into the statistics yet (we'll probably see it show up in the 2018 report), and they need to do more. One very obvious measure would be to make a solid commitment to reduce child poverty by setting targets - a policy measure they use for everything else. The longer they refuse to do so, the more they make it clear that they really just don't care about hungry kids.

And they should care. Not just because this is a moral stain on our nation, but because child poverty costs a fortune and reducing it saves money. That's logic that even Bill English should understand. Reducing child poverty is not a cost - it is an investment in a better future for everyone. Isn't that meant to be what his government is about?