According to Innes Asher (NZ Herald, December 19), "In the 1991 Budget, the universal child benefit was abolished, and income support benefits were cut by about 21 per cent, resulting in a doubling of children in poverty."
In fact, although the universal child benefit was abolished, nearly half of the saved funds were re-allocated to the means-tested Family Support. As for the DPB, the benefit most welfare-dependent children rely on, the cuts were 10.7 percent for those with one child, and 8.9 percent for those with two children (Social Developments, Tim Garlick).
If benefits are raised to relieve child poverty there are two distinct risks.
Numerous studies have shown the rate of unmarried births increases with lifts in welfare income. Already around half the children in poverty are in single parent homes.
Secondly, OECD research found that when the state reduces child poverty through greater income redistribution, the number of work-less homes also rises.
The lasting solution to child poverty lies in employment and committed parental relationships. Trying to solve it via more welfare will only exacerbate the problem in the long term.
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