No more money available for child poverty reduction - Prime Minister

The Prime Minister says the Government doesn't have any money for additional child poverty reduction measures outside of its Families Package.

"We don't, and I will be very upfront and honest about that," Jacinda Ardern said on Newshub Nation on Saturday.

"We have put $5.5 billion into the families package over four years. We did that early so it would come into place in July, but for now that is the centrepiece of what we are doing."

This week, Treasury revised its numbers on how many children would be helped by the families package down to 64,000 from an initial estimation of 88,000.

Following the release of the Child Poverty Reduction Bill in January, the Prime Minister announced the Government's commitment to reduce the proportion of children in low income households from 15 to 5 percent.

Ms Ardern said she was confident the Government could still reach this goal, despite the revised numbers and a lack of money for additional measures: "Yes, they are 10 year goals and they are ambitious, but yes."

She said that the families package would still mean 384,000 families will end up, on average, $75 better off a week.

The Prime Minister also remains committed to the Government's promise to reducing debt from 23 percent to 20 percent debt by 2021.

She told host Lisa Owen that she wouldn't breach that debt limit in order to meet the child poverty reduction targets.

"No, because we believe we can do what we have set out to do."

She said the Government had already extended the time frame for reducing the debt in order to meet KiwiBuild commitments and had made other cuts to accommodate social spending.

"We have made other choices - we've canned tax cuts, we have made decisions about the way we orientate our spending that says 'these are our priorities', but at the same time New Zealanders expect us to keep our books in order. Our belief is we can do both of those."

But Newsroom business commentator Bernard Hickey said the Government needs to lift the debt cap to meet its social policies.

He said it would be difficult to make an impact on child poverty long-term without achieving KiwiBuild.

"You can't build 100,000 houses without spending an awful lot of money on infrastructure - so roads, pipes, schools, hospitals and railways," he said.

Mr Hickey says that could cost local and central government up to $100 billion, but "both are restricted by this self-imposed debt limit".

Newshub Nation.

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