Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Children in poverty miss Xmas list

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services was sorry to see the Government so quickly reject 59 NGOs’ call to give children in poverty the gift of a chance to thrive this Christmas.
• Auckland City Mission bracing for toughest Christmas in 100 years

Julanne Clarke-Morris  |  10 Nov 2020

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services is disappointed that the Labour Government have missed an opportunity to make this Christmas the best that New Zealand children living in poverty have ever had.

“NZCCSS is incredibly disappointed with the Prime Minister’s decision to reject the call by 59 NGOs to increase benefit levels before Christmas.” said NZCCSS Executive Officer Trevor McGlinchey today.

Yesterday the New Zealand Council of Social Services – which represents Christian social service NGOs and includes 17 Anglican agencies and 7 Pākehā dioceses – joined a nationwide group of 59 social services agencies calling on the Government to restore income support to liveable levels – before Christmas 2020.

In their open letter to the new Labour Government, the NGOs pointed out how low incomes and high housing costs have locked more and more families and their children into poverty over the last thirty years.

“We want every child in Aotearoa to experience a thriving and happy childhood. But right now, hundreds of thousands of children are constrained by poverty, despite parents’ best efforts,” they wrote.

NZCCSS points out that sadly when the Prime Minister claims children in poverty are $100 in family income better off, she is not counting the $100 average rise in rents that families have faced over the last three years.

The open letter from people who work with families of children locked in poverty every day reminds Government that with the impact of COVID-19, they are seeing more parents recently out of work. Those parents will now join the many people doing it hard who already faced a Christmas with little earthly means to celebrate in 2020.

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services know how much poverty limits their clients’ lives, and they know the Government could choose to permanently shift children out of poverty by backing a policy of liveable incomes for all.

The NGOs believe that restoring income support to a living rate would have been a beautiful way for the Government to bring children in poverty their best earthly gift this Christmas – the gift of removing the constraints of poverty on their families and so allowing them to thrive.

The NZCCSS stands by their request for the new Government to move toward restoring a policy of income support that leaves no child in poverty – either for this Christmas, or any other.

The full open letter from 59 social service groups around Aotearoa New Zealand follows in full below:

::        ::        ::        ::        ::       

To: Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Minister for Child Poverty Reduction,
Hon Carmel Sepuloni Minister of Social Development and Employment
Deputy Prime Minister Hon Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance

Dear Jacinda, Carmel and Grant,

No matter who we are or where we live we know that our wellbeing is connected with those around us.

When everyone has what they need to look after themselves and fully participate in their communities we all flourish.

We want every child in Aotearoa to experience a thriving and happy childhood. But right now, hundreds of thousands of children are constrained by poverty, despite parents’ best efforts.

We’ve had a long period of low wages and high housing costs. For decades, Governments have underinvested in key public services that build well-being in all our communities., like public housing and income support.

Many governments have prioritised policies that help the already well-off, including people who make money from housing.

As a result, too many parents are under-resourced, overstressed, and unable to give their children real opportunities to thrive.

Now due to ongoing COVID-19 fallout, more families are being pushed into poverty.

Unemployment has risen at a record-breaking pace – already increasing by nearly a third in the three months up to September. Foodbanks and youth homelessness services are reporting huge increases in demand. By Christmas, it’s expected Work and Income will have allocated over 2.5 million hardship grants and advances this year alone.

The situation is urgent. As the new Government, you can release the growing constraints on individuals, families and children.

We are calling on you to life on of the biggest limitations on whānau and child well-being: not having enough income.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, you acted quickly to set up the COVID income relief payment, which is nearly twice the amount of the usual jobseeker benfit. You showed us that you understand that current benefit levels are insufficient and lock families and children into poverty – an issue that affects all of us.

Now we are asking you to apply the same common sense approach to income support. To make sure everyone, whether they are working, caring for cildren, living with a disability or illness, learning or have lost their jobs before or because of COCID-19, has a liveable income.

Doing so will help achieve you vision of making Aotearoa the best place to be a child.

Before the election, the Labour Party has consistently said there’s more work to be done to lift families out of poverty. You now have the mandate and opportunity to do so.

Please increase income support before Christmas.




Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers

Auckland Action Against Poverty

Auckland City Mission

Auckland Women’s Centre


Belong Aotearoa

Beneficiaries & Unwaged Worker Trust

Beneficiary Advocacy Services Christchurch

Benefit Rights Service

Birthright NZ

Brainwave Trust Aotearoa

CCS Disability Action

Child Poverty Action Group

Citizens Advice Bureau

Community Housing Aotearoa

Community Networks Aotearoa

Disabled Person’s Assembly

Equality Network



Hutt Valley Benefit Education Service Trust (BEST)

Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective


Manaaki Rangatahi

Manawatū Tenants’ Union

Māngere East Family Services

Mental Health Foundation

Methodist Alliance

Monte Cecilia

National Council of Women

New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations

Ngā Tāngata Microfinance

NZ Disability Advisory Trust

NZ Accessibility Advisory Trust

NZEI Te Riu Roa

Pacific Women’s Watch NZ

Public Issues Network: Methodist Church

Public Service Association

Renters United

Salvation Army

Save the Children

Sisters of Mercy Wiri

Social Justice Group of the Auckland Anglican Diocese

Social Link

St Anne’s Pantry

St Matthews in the City

Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services

Tick for Kids

Tokona Te Raki

United Community Action Network


Urban Neighbours of Hope


Waipareira Trust

We Are Beneficiaries

Wesley Community Action

Whānau Āwhina Plunket