Welfare reform: Children's Commissioner attacks Government's 'timid' response to report

The Children's Commissioner says he's "terribly disappointed" by the Government's response to the recent welfare reform report.

Judge Andrew Becroft unleashed on Twitter on Monday afternoon, accusing the political leadership of a "remarkably timid response" to the recommendations.

"Terribly disappointed for children living in disadvantage by the Government's response to the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG)," he wrote.

"We were hoping for transformative change but so far a remarkably timid response. Hoping for better in the Budget."

The WEAG publically released its report last Friday. It contained 42 recommendations to improve welfare in New Zealand, including abolishing sanctions for failing or refusing drug-testing and increasing benefit levels by up to 47 percent.

But so far the Government has said it will accept just three of them. The Government will employ more frontline staff to support beneficiaries into "good work", scrap disciplinary sanctions for not declaring the name of the child's father, and lift the abatement threshold in line with minimum wage increases.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said responding to all 42 recommendations made in the report could "take years", but defended the Government's actions as taking "good first steps to improving the system".

But it's not good enough for Judge Becroft, who says children's needs have been "relegated for far too long".

"For more than 30 years, we trusted too much in trickle-down economics and our most vulnerable children have suffered immensely as a result," he wrote on Twitter.

"WEAG's recommendations were powerful and constructive. They recognise the need for fundamental and structural change to make children's interests paramount and give families a chance to thrive.

"We ensured in the 1990s our over-65s are one of the best looked after and least deprived groups in the world, and this is great. There's no reason why we can't do exactly the same for our children."