Media release: Well-intentioned targets must be followed by well-targeted actions

Media release
30 January, 2018

Wellington (30 January 2018): “We welcome the government’s focus on tracking the number of children in persistent poverty and hardship. However, setting multiple arbitrary targets for reducing child hardship is easier than actually helping people extricate themselves from their predicaments,” said Dr Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director of The New Zealand Initiative.
He was responding to the Government’s proposed Child Poverty Reduction Bill released this afternoon.
“The Initiative fully supports a strong government focus on reducing the hardship, abuse and neglect being experienced by far too many children,” said Senior Fellow Dr Bryce Wilkinson, author of its November 2017 report, Welfare Work and Wellbeing”. “But every household is facing its own combination of difficulties. There are problems of lack of literacy and numeracy, health and disabilities, barriers to getting jobs, such as a criminal record, problems of low paying jobs, problems of mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, to name a few. Lack of money can be a cause or a symptom of a household’s predicament.”

The Initiative supported the previous Government’s “social investment approach” with its focus on getting agencies to set aside their silo focus and pool efforts to find programmes that actually work to help people achieve greater independence and more fulfilling lives. ”We are looking for this government to show that it also sees these things as important,” he concluded.
Dr Wilkinson welcomed the emphasis on housing costs in some of the measures. “The New Zealand Initiative has been emphasising the hardship being caused by rising housing cost for many years now. It is pleasing to see that the Government has acknowledged the seriousness of this problem, largely diagnosed it correctly and is showing a determination to make a real difference."
“What the community is looking for is effective action to address these major social problems,” concluded Dr Wilkinson. Taking years to set targets might be useful throat clearing, but the government needs to show that it is merely the prelude to real action.

Read more:
You can download Welfare, Work and Wellbeing: From Benefits to Better Lives on our website


Dr Bryce Wilkinson is available for interviews, please contact:

Linda Heerink, Communications Officer
The New Zealand Initiative
Phone: +64 4 494 9109
Mobile: +64 21 172 8036

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