Child poverty targeted in Budget – John Key

  • Breaking
  • 17/05/2015

The Prime Minister says the Greens' latest proposed KiwiSaver policy will cost far too much, and is too biased towards children from low-income families.

The Green Party wants children enrolled in the savings scheme from birth, with the Government putting in $1000 to kick-start the fund and bigger top-up contributions for families below the poverty line.

But John Key says there are already a number of policies in place for children from low-income families, and the Greens' policy isn't fair to other kids.

"They can get a student loan with no interest, they can get a student allowance they never have to repay. There's lots of entitlements that they get that better-off kids don't get," he says.

"Realistically, it would be massively expensive… it would be essentially saying for one set of kids we're going to set you up with this massive nest egg and for everybody else, you're on your own."

But financial columnist Mary Holm says the policy makes a lot of sense.

"I think it's certainly got some appeal," she told RadioLIVE. "I wouldn't like to think that the National Government turned it down just because it's a Greens idea, rather than their idea."

Ms Holm believes it may help children develop a strong savings culture.

The Greens estimate it will cost $224 million over the first three years.

Mr Key has previewed this week's Budget as containing measures to tackle child poverty, which he says isn't as big a problem as the Greens claim.

"Some people say there are 250,000 kids in [poverty] – I'd say it's 60,000 to 100,000. There are some," he said on TV3's Paul Henry programme this morning.

He accepts it's "numerically probably correct" there are more children living poverty now than when he became Prime Minister in 2008, which he blames on the global financial crisis.

"There were 240,000 [children in poverty] at the very height of Helen Clark's time in Government – my point is, it's not new."

But he's playing down expectations ahead of Thursday's Budget, saying the priority has been getting back into surplus – which won't happen for the seventh year in a row.

"When you go to a Budget, you don't have a lot of cash – and we haven't, because we've been wanting to get the books in order."

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source: newshub archive