Rent controls and income boost essential for kids’ wellbeing

The Green Party is calling on the Government to immediately introduce rent controls and expand the cost of living payment to those most in need.

“Every child should grow up in a warm, safe home with enough resources to thrive. But for children growing up in poverty, that’s not happening. By boosting people’s incomes and introducing rent controls, the Government can lift families out of poverty and unlock what every child needs to live a good life,” says Ricardo Menéndez March, Green Spokesperson for Social Development and Employment

Data released yesterday from the Growing Up in New Zealand long-term study shows how growing up in poverty is shaping the lives of tens of thousands of children across Aotearoa New Zealand. 

“For decades, governments have underinvested in the services that help the lowest-income families, like affordable homes and income support. As a result tens of thousands of children are growing up in families that are struggling to make ends meet, put food on the table, and roof on their heads. 

“What this study shows is that children growing up in poverty are far more likely to struggle at school, have poorer health outcomes, and be locked out of what they need to thrive in life. This is only going to get worse as inflation continues to impact those with the least at a much higher rate than those with the most.  

“There are two areas in particular that the Growing Up in New Zealand study shows are constraining families and their children to poverty: unaffordable homes and low incomes. Both are political choices and both can be addressed right now. 

“For a start, the Government must extend the $350 cost of living payment to the poorest families while we work to further increase benefits. With the cost of living continuing to go up and the slow progress on child poverty targets, we can see from this study that the Government needs to invest more in families with the least. The poorly targeted approach of the Cost of Living Payment will have big costs for children’s wellbeing. 

“With nearly half of all children growing up in a rented home, the study also shows very clearly the impact unaffordable, unstable, and unsuitable rentals can have on kids’ wellbeing.

“Rent is now the biggest expense for a huge number of New Zealanders, some of whom have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. When parents face the constant stress of handing over most of their income to a millionaire landlord, just to keep a roof over their heads, they are far less likely to be able to support their kids to thrive. 

“For years the Greens have been saying that kids need the stability of a warm, affordable home. Rent controls and a rental warrant of fitness would make a huge difference and help release the pressures on families so they can focus on providing their kids with what they need to thrive.  

“No child should be growing up without a safe, secure place to home or food on the table. People on the lowest incomes need a government that is committed to providing good public services to all families with children - and with more Green MPs we can make it happen,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.

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