Children’s policy

by frog

Sue Bradford has just released the Green Party’s Children’s Policy on the eve of the Every Child Counts Conference which starts tomorrow.

As expected the policy signals the Greens will work to retain the amendments to s 59 of the Crimes Act.  It also has important health provisions (such as free dental care), environmental provisions (such as creating a “mainland island” in or near each of the 5 main centres by 2010 so that urban children can enjoy their natural heritage), investment in education (as a percentage of GDP across all education sectors), the rights of children who are adopted, 13 months paid parental leave and more.

But one of the areas I find most innovative and powerful is the stuff around changes to the benefit system. Sue Bradford is setting a goal by which Government commits to end child poverty in New Zealand by 2014. That will mean things such as:

  • Introduce a Consumer Price Index-adjusted Universal Child Benefit. The base rate as of September 2007 would be$16.25 per week for the first child and $11.50 per week for every subsequent child. This non-income tested payment to the primary caregiver would be similar to the Family Benefit that was scrapped in 1991 and can be capitalised towards the child’s first home.
  • Remove discriminatory policies to ensure families in and out of work are treated equitably (e.g. the In Work Tax Credit currently discriminates against beneficiaries and those not in the workforce) and incorporate such tax credits into the Universal Child Benefit regime proposed above.
  • Support the provision, without the imposition of a work test, of benefits to single parents and partners of beneficiaries whose primary responsibility is caring for dependent children.
  • Oppose the introduction of any provision that financially penalises single parents who give birth while in receipt of benefit.
  • Repeal section 70A of the Social Security Act, which penalises single parents who refuse, or fail, to identify in law the non-custodial parent of their child or who refuse, or fail, to make a child support formula assessment application. While we believe that that non-custodial parents should be required to take financial responsibility for their children, we believe this would be more effectively achieved through a review of the Child Support Act, together with more effective education of children and young people about the responsibilities of parenting, rather than by financially penalising some of the most vulnerable families in our society.

It will be interesting to see the feedback from the Every Child Counts conference tomorrow.

frog says

Published in Campaign | Economy, Work, & Welfare | Health & Wellbeing | Society & Culture by frog on Tue, September 9th, 2008   

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