PMs ‘Oliver Twist’ poverty measure excuse for breaking budget promise

John Key has completely invented a new poverty measure that drastically underestimates the extent of child poverty, presumably to avoid taking meaningful action in this week’s budget, the Green Party says.

In the last week John Key has put the number of children in poverty as low as 60,000, by inventing a new threshold for material deprivation that is higher than anywhere else in the Western world.

“John Key promised this budget would be a poverty circuit breaker, but his new ‘Oliver Twist’ definition of poverty means he is ignoring three quarters of those who are actually suffering,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“The Budget is shaping up to be a trail of broken promises. First on reaching surplus and now on failure to address child poverty.

“Poll after poll shows New Zealanders want to see action on child poverty, but instead of doing something meaningful for our kids, John Key’s pretending most of them don’t exist. That’s pathetic.

“John Key yesterday defined poverty as a child with nine to 11 attributes on the material deprivation index. In fact, the accepted definition of material deprivation is to have four or more.

“There is not one child poverty expert who would agree with the Prime Minister that only 60,000 to 100,000 kids are living in poverty here. Internationally accepted measures put the number up to four times as high.

“The Children’s Commissioners Child Poverty Monitor has found that about 200,000 kiwi kids are suffering from material deprivation. These are children who lack four or more basic items on the deprivation index, including regular fresh fruit and vegetables, their own bed or a coat to keep them warm or dry or their parents regularly postpone doctors’ visits because of the cost.

“Even the Social Development Ministry reports that there were 260,000 kids in income poverty based on its most generous measure, and 205,000 children living in severe income poverty, where almost all would be regularly going without what they need to lead a fulfilling life.

“John Key may not know what real poverty and deprivation is, but sadly more than 200,000 kids do. It’s time to actually eradicate child poverty in New Zealand and ensure our economy works for everyone, not just John Key’s chosen few,” Mrs Turei said

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