Covid lockdown months not included in child poverty statistic figures

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Feb 2021, 10:10AM
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Covid lockdown months not included in child poverty statistic figures

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Feb 2021, 10:10AM

New Zealand's Covid-19 forced lockdown and the subsequent weeks will not be included in today's all-important Child Poverty report, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed.

Instead, the annual measure will only take into account the nine months to March 2020, and has surveyed 15,000 families rather than 20,000 as in previous years.

Given the lag period of the data, tomorrow's numbers will take into account child poverty levels from between July 2018 and March 2019.

This is because families were asked about their experiences in the 12 months prior to the survey, which was taken between July 2019 and March 2020.

The data deliberately does not include April, May and June because the Ministry of Health did not want officials undertaking face-to-face interviews, given the Covid-19 risks.

Speaking to media in Christchurch Ardern - who is also the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction - said she was not concerned the data did not take Covid-19 into account.

"Statistics NZ are perfectly comfortable with the data sets they have through until March," she said.

"It won't pick up the full effects of Covid, so that next data set will be when we see the full effects of Covid-19."

This year the Government would be looking to see the impacts of their flagship $5.5 billion Families Package, launched in 2018, which last year's Child Poverty figures did not capture.

"The important thing for us is to look at how we've been doing across the past two years, because we're looking against our baseline how we're tracking over time," she said.

"I'll be looking for the full effects of that two-year period at the Working for Families package because none of our data to date has fully taken that into account."

The Prime Minister said she would not only be looking at relative income measures but what was known as material deprivation, which considers a range of factors.

"That's asking ourselves are our children getting enough healthy meals, do they have shoes to wear to school, do they have access to healthcare?"

Last year's Child Poverty report, based on the findings from 2018 to 2019, revealed the number of people facing material hardship had remained relatively stagnant.

At the time Ardern remained confident the Government would meet its child poverty targets.

Last year's figures also found the cost of housing to be a significant factor contributing to child poverty in New Zealand.

The latest child poverty statistics are due to be released on Tuesday.