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Poverty report sparks call for action

Friday 17 Feb 2012 9:34 a.m.

A new report on child poverty shows the urgent need for Government action, Labour says.

The Salvation Army's annual State of the Nation report, released on Friday, says New Zealand has "all but given up" on any serious efforts to relieve child poverty.

It doesn't specifically criticise the Government but says there's been no progress in reducing child poverty over the last five years.

"More children are being abused or neglected by their caregivers, more families are now living in dire material need," it says.

"This trend has been sorely evident at Salvation Army centres."

Labour's social development spokeswoman, Jacinda Ardern, says the government persistently downplays the connection between poverty and child vulnerability.

The Government is developing policy on child abuse but Ms Ardern says the inquiry doesn't go far enough.

"As the report points out, vulnerability doesn't start with poor policy. It starts in the social and economic environments we create for children to grow up in," she said.

"It's time for the government to address the whole issue, not just parts of it."

Ms Ardern is again offering to work with the Government to develop cross-party policy.

Her previous offers have been rejected.

The report also shows employment is getting more difficult for teenagers, while more people past retirement age are staying in the workforce.

Employment of people over 65 jumped by about 42,000 in the last five years, an increase in the participation rate for people in that age group from 14.1 per cent to 19.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the number of people aged 15 to 19 who were working had fallen in the same period from 156,000 to 115,000, and the youth unemployment rate had risen from 14.3 per cent to 24.7 per cent.

"Young people aged between 15 and 19 have borne the brunt of the recession and tightening of the job market," the report says.


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