New Zealand Photograph:( Reuters )
Jacinda Ardern, however, says she is 'really proud' of her government who, she believes, has been able to cushion the impact of coronavirus for such children and has been able to save children from child poverty
The coronavirus pandemic has been tough for everyone around the world. While many people slipped below the poverty line, others lost their loved ones. Similarly, in New Zealand, thousands of children have been pushed towards poverty, a study has revealed.
As per a study conducted by the Child Poverty Action Group, nearly 18,000 children in New Zealand were pushed into poverty due to the ongoing pandemic.
The group released a 72-page report that showed a spike in food banks during the March 2020 lockdown of New Zealand with a number that was almost double the pre-Covid times. While New Zealand was able to successfully beat coronavirus way faster than the rest of the world, Māori and Pasifika children were severely negatively affected by the pandemic.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been a strong supporter of reducing child poverty and had also introduced legislation to stress the accountability for reduction targets. However, the data available shows that the progress is very slow and a lot of children are still living in inhumane conditions with families that are unable to provide them proper food and light.
Ardern, however, says she is "really proud" of her government who, she believes, has been able to cushion the impact of coronavirus for such children. She also added that she is sure no past government has been able to do more than this to address the issue of child poverty.
"As soon as Covid hit, we knew that the impact would be felt heavily by children already experiencing poverty, that’s why put in an extra $25 into weekly benefits, changed requirements for in-work tax credits, and, in the last budget, made substantial changes to our welfare system," she said.
The report’s author, however, highlighted that they had not yet considered the increasing house costs which could additionally make things worse.
"This increase in child poverty of about 10% comes at a time when property owners have seen their wealth rise at an accelerated rate," report author and Janet McAllister said. "The government avoided one massive health and economic crisis but it enabled another one – that of poverty, homelessness, and inequality – to grow rapidly."
As per the report, the three main reasons behind child poverty in New Zealand are decades of ignorance of the government, unemployment and education disruptions due to Covid, and inadequate income support for children in form of government policies.