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The Government has revealed it is completely heartless when it comes to the 20 per cent of kids trapped in poverty, rejecting any possibility of giving the poorest kiwi kids the helping hand it gives other children, the Green Party said today.
Prime Minister John Key flippantly rejected as "dopey" the recommendation from the Children's Commissioner-led Expert Group on Child Poverty for a universal child payment as a way to alleviate child poverty. He told reporters that "very targeted" assistance for low income earners through Working For Families was a better way to help poorer children.
"But Minister Gerry Brownie confirmed on his behalf today that does not mean the Government will extend its "very targeted" assistance to New Zealand's least well-off kids," Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said today.
"This is a kick in the teeth to any child whose parents can't work, or don't work enough to qualify, who have been left completely out in the cold.
"It is heartless and stupid to deny our poorest kids the same chance of a good life and a fair future as other kids get.
"It costs the country $6 billion a year to keep these children in poverty.
"The expert advisory group has found that 20 per cent of all New Zealand children are in persistent poverty - that is they have spent 3 out of the last 4 years poor - and that this can have profound, long term negative effects on their lives.
"Most of these children live in beneficiary homes which are deliberately excluded from the In Work Tax Credit Payments that give other kids a chance at a better life.
"The expert advisory group has explained to Mr Key that a universal child payment for children under six would not affect many well-off families because most of them don't have young children, but it would ensure those kids who currently miss out on help, get the support they need.
"By rejecting both a universal child payment, and our bill that replaces the In work Tax Credit with a payment for all children who need it, they have made it abundantly clear to the kids of New Zealand that, till their parents have full-time jobs, this Government doesn't care about them," Mrs Turei said.