Greens launch billion dollar plan to reduce child poverty

The Green Party today launched a billion dollar package to significantly reduce child poverty in New Zealand.

The Green Party today launched a billion dollar package to significantly reduce child poverty in New Zealand.

The details of the plan were released at the party’s campaign launch in Auckland.

The plan is the core component of the Green Party's social policy priority this election: Delivering a fairer society where every child has enough to thrive.

The Green Party will:

Create a new top tax rate of 40 percent above $140,000, harmonise the trust tax rate with the top income tax rate, and introduce measures to make it harder for people to avoid paying their fair share of tax, generating close to $1 billion a year;

Investing that revenue to fund:

  1. A new Children’s Credit that will give an extra $60 a week to families currently missing out, at a cost of $400 million a year;
  2. A non-discriminatory Parental Tax Credit of $220 a week in the first weeks of life for the poorest children, costing $29.4 million a year;
  3. A $500 million per year investment in children’s health and education to reduce the harm caused by poverty.

“The Green Party is committed to building a fairer society where every child in this country has enough of what they need to thrive,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“Ensuring that every child in New Zealand has enough to thrive is one of the biggest moral and economic challenges of our times. One in four kiwi children now live below the poverty line.

“There are 35,000 more children growing up in severe poverty in New Zealand than there were before National came to power. That makes a total of 205,000 New Zealand children living in severe poverty.

“Child poverty and inequality grew faster in New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s than any other country in the world and it has remained at unacceptably high levels.

“Kiwi kids growing up in poverty are three times more likely to be admitted to hospital, five times more likely to die of cot death, and 27 times more likely to get rheumatic fever, and die earlier than those who are better off.

“Child poverty can be eliminated. We have the tools and techniques. It is simply a matter of choice.

“The Green Party plan will significantly reduce the number of children growing up in poverty in New Zealand.

“Altogether the Green Party has a $1 billion plan to invest in children and families to reduce poverty in New Zealand.

“For a quarter of the price of National’s tax cuts to the wealthiest New Zealanders we can reduce poverty and its effects amongst our poorest children.

“We will roll the Family Tax Credit and the In-work Tax Credit together to create a new Children’s Credit, worth an additional $60 a week for children who currently miss out on the In Work Tax Credit.

“130,000-150,000 extra families will benefit from this payment, which will provide an additional $3000 a year to the majority of children in poverty, whose parents are beneficiaries or students.

“The Children’s Credit will represent a dramatic reversal of 22 years of discrimination against our poorest children that started with the scrapping of the universal family benefit in 1991.

“We will also extend the Parental Tax Credit to the 13,000 newborns whose parents are currently ineligible. The Parental Tax Credit will be worth $220 a week for 10 weeks, a total of $2,200.

“Our policy enacts the advice of Paula Bennett’s officials who told her that babies born to beneficiaries had the most to gain from this financial support in their first weeks of their life and that such a payment could improve their long term wellbeing.

“We will also invest $500 million per year in children’s health and education initiatives to reduce the harm of poverty.

“Hundreds of thousands of Kiwi kids will be much better off under the Greens $1 billion investment in the health, education and financial welfare of our children. We will loosen the grip poverty has on the lives of too many kids,” said Mrs Turei.

The Green Party also announced that the funding for the poverty alleviation package will come through introducing a new top tax rate of 40 percent on any income earned over $140,000, with every cent raised going directly into alleviating child poverty.

“The new top tax rate will impact only 3 percent of all taxpayers, but the revenue raised will make the world of difference to the hundreds of thousands of children who are living in poverty.

“Our tax system is the key to solving poverty and reducing inequality. Our top rate of income tax is the fourth-lowest in the OECD. Even at 40 percent, we’ll still have one of the lowest top tax rates in the OECD.

“To limit the risk of tax avoidance that can arise when you raise the top tax rate, we’ll also raise the trust tax rate to harmonise with the new top tax rate at 40 percent.

“The Green Party is committed to eliminating child poverty in New Zealand. Our suite of initiatives will significantly raise incomes for the poorest families in New Zealand.

“Voters have a real choice on September 20. A Government prepared to tackle poverty and inequality, or a Government in denial of both.”

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