The Government’s social spending promises for this month’s budget are more Band-Aid than cure because they don’t tackle tough structural problems like taxation, Peter Malcolm, spokesman for the income equality project Closing the Gap, said today.
Earlier this month, the government flagged a $321 million social investment package, and new Public Service targets, including a focus on pregnant women and children.
“Closing the Gap welcomes the commitment to the health and wellbeing of children and families who are being left behind, but we’re concerned that what’s driving inequality and poverty will not be addressed in the 25 May budget,” Mr. Malcolm said.
“Finance Minister Steven Joyce has hinted at taxation tweaks to help middle and lower income earners, but there’s still no commitment to raise taxes on the wealthiest,” he said.
“The bottom line is that better public services alone aren’t enough because what poorer families really need are higher incomes — and that can only be achieved through much bolder policies than the government is talking about,” he said.
“For starters, we need a steeply progressive tax regime that targets the wealthiest, plus significant increases in the minimum wage and living-wage level benefits,” he said. “It’s hard to see how $321 million and some tax tweaks can accomplish that.”
Mr. Malcolm said research has cast doubt on just how effective some of the intervention programmes proposed under the social investment package would be, for example work on done by The Morgan Foundation.
What’s more, work by the Child Poverty Action Group shows that Working for Families has been eroded so much that it would take an extra $700 million a year just to restore its real value.
For further information, contact Peter Malcolm
Tel. 022 3086982